COVID-19

Coronavirus Live Support

We’ve created this live blog to update you with useful and relevant insights into the latest developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need any further support, please contact a member of the Hallidays team on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk

23/09/2021

COVID SSP to end on 30th September 2021

We wanted to take the opportunity to let you know that a recent decision has been made to end the COVID related SSP that you can claim.

To support employers during the pandemic the government legislated to allow certain small and medium size employers to reclaim some, or all, of their SSP costs from HMRC via the SSPRS.

Under the new regulations, employers will not be able to reclaim COVID SSP from 30th September 2021 and any claims relating to periods prior to that date must have been filed by 31st December 2021.

It would appear that employers are still required to pay from Day 1 for COVID related absences. 

How Hallidays HR can help

As always, if you have any questions please contact the Hallidays HR on 0161 476 8276 or hr@hallidays.co.uk to learn more.


15/09/2021

Autumn and Winter plan for COVID

Yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister unveiled plans for tackling Covid during autumn and winter in England, with Boris Johnson warning the disease "remains a risk".

They include booster jabs for millions - but hold in reserve measures like vaccine passports for certain settings.

The Prime Minister outlined Plan A and Plan B (contingency plan), as follows:

"Plan A" is designed to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed and promotes vaccines and testing.

"Plan B" is to be used if the NHS is coming under "unsustainable pressure" and includes measures such as face masks.

Under Plan A, announced by Health Secretary Sajid Javid, ministers will:

  • encourage the unvaccinated to be jabbed;
  • offer vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds; and
  • begin a booster jab programme for millions.

The plan will also include continuing testing, tracing of cases and self-isolation for those who catch the virus.

Businesses will also be encouraged to consider using the NHS Covid Pass to check the vaccination or test status of customers/clients.

Under Plan B, which ministers say would only be enacted if further measures are needed to protect the NHS, this could include:

  • the public being urged to act more cautiously;
  • mandatory vaccine passports could be used for mass events and other settings; and
  • face coverings could be legally mandated in some places.

Guidance on working from home may also be issued under this plan.

Furlough scheme - reminder

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is in operation until 30th September 2021. This can be used for full or flexible furlough as required. All previous guidelines and eligibility still apply.

Please note that the employer continues to be responsible for all pension and NI contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 per month).

 

SEPTEMBER

Government contribution to wages

60%

Up to £1,875

Employer contribution to wages

20%

Up to £625

Employee Receives

80%

Up to £2,500

Claiming furlough

As a reminder claims must be submitted by the following date:

Claim for furlough days in:

Claim period must be submitted by:

September 2021

14 October 2021

Job retention bonus

You may recall that last year the government announced a job retention bonus of £1,000 per employee that would be paid to businesses, who kept furloughed employees in employment up to and including the 31st January 2021.

As we are sure you are more than aware, this has unfortunately been scrapped and there have been no updates on what, if anything will be introduced in its place. 

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


03/09/2021

End of Furlough - Be Prepared!

The CJRS, or furlough scheme, is scheduled to end on 30th September 2021. The scheme was previously due to end in October 2020 and then April 2021, but was extended in light of the continued challenges of the pandemic and the mandatory closure of businesses in many sectors of the economy. However, there is no sign of the scheme being extended this time round.

Although some businesses have already brought back their whole workforce, there are others that are still relying on the furlough scheme either full or part time. For these employers, there may be some difficult decisions to make, so we thought we would highlight the options available to you. 

OPTIONS AFTER FURLOUGH

Restructure

Inevitably, it may be that as a result of a decrease in business, or the change in the way you do business, that you need to consider restructuring. It may be that since employees have been on furlough you have found new, more efficient ways of doing things and so the role has changed or isn’t there anymore.

It’s so important to look at what job roles you have, compared to what you need going forward and make the necessary changes.

Redundancy

As a result, you may need to consider making some redundancies.

In this scenario it is important to follow a fair and proper procedure. Despite the pandemic, there are no allowances within legislation which allow you to cut corners and all employment law should be adhered to as normal.

If you are making less than 20 roles redundant, then there is no set consultation period, it simply must be ‘reasonable’ to allow for meaningful consultation. If you are making 1 role redundant, but more than 1 person is in that role, then you would need to consider pooling these employees together in the process.

It is a complex area and can be expensive to get wrong. So, it is recommended that you get some expert advice if you are thinking of making any redundancies.

Voluntary redundancy

In some cases, compulsory redundancy may be unavoidable, although you should always consider the option of canvassing across the workforce for voluntary redundancies, even if this requires the offer of a more generous redundancy package to encourage uptake. The cost of voluntary redundancies could equate to much greater savings in the long-term.

It’s important to bear in mind that even with a forced redundancy situation, furloughed employees continue to enjoy the same redundancy rights as any other employee.

When calculating statutory redundancy or statutory notice pay for furloughed employees, you must use their full normal pay, not their reduced furlough rate.

Redeployment

A way to mitigate redundancies may be by redeploying employees from one role into another. The new role does not necessarily have to be similar to the original one and can involve different duties, locations, or seniority levels, although generally speaking you must have the agreement of each individual affected by any changes so as to avoid any legal risks.

Through agreement, you can also implement a variety of other new working arrangements, including reduced hours for the same pay or the same hours with reduced pay. However, the general contractual principle is that change can only be effective where:

  • there’s contractual provision which permits a change to be made;
  • the employee agrees to the proposed change; and or
  • the employee’s representatives agree to the proposed change, for example, a trade union.

If a proposed change is clearly covered by a flexibility clause within the individual’s contract of employment, for example, to their hours worked, their rates of pay or the employee’s place of work, you can usually introduce the change. However, the extent to which any changes can be made, what notice must be given to effect such change and what procedure must be followed, will depend on the precise wording of the clause. For example, if the flexibility clause says the employee can be asked to work anywhere in the UK, you could change their place of work, although a reasonable period of notice should still be given to allow the employee to relocate.

Even where a change is covered by a flexibility clause, it’s still important to consult with employees before implementing any change. In this way, you can pre-empt any potential issues, and find a way forward that works for both your business and your employees.

In the absence of any flexibility clause covering the proposed change, you and the employee, or employee representatives, would usually need to agree to the change before it can go ahead. If changes cannot be agreed, you might still be able to force a change by dismissing and rehiring the employee.

However, re-engaging employees under a new contract should only be used as a last resort where the changes are absolutely necessary, and only after consulting the employee and following a fair dismissal procedure. If you decide to dismiss and rehire 20 or more employees, this will also trigger the collective consultation rules.

Lay-off or Short-time Working

A temporary reduction in working hours and wages, may be a consideration after furlough has ended. You may not be in the financial position to bring people back full time, or the business just isn’t there yet, so you don’t need them to work.

If your contracts of employment contain these clauses then you can impose either lay-off or short-time working, without agreement from your employees. 

With lay-off, employees can be laid off for up to 4 consecutive weeks (or 6 weeks, of which no more than 3 are consecutive) in a 13-week continuous period, and if they have over 1 months’ service they would qualify for statutory guaranteed lay-off pay of 5 days normal pay (pro rata for part-time employees). One thing to be mindful of, is that anyone with over 2 years’ service might be able to claim for a redundancy payment if they have been laid off for more than this.

Short-time working refers to a reduction in working hours which equates to less than half of their normal working hours and pay.

If you do not have these clauses within your contract, then to impose it you would be at risk of a claim for constructive dismissal and/or unlawful deductions from wages. 

However, what you could consider is discussing and agreeing a period of lay-off or short-time working with your employees. Normally, if the situation is explained clearly enough, they know that it is temporary and as an alternative to redundancies, then they are agreeable. In this scenario, it would be advisable to get signed consent to such an agreement and place it on their personal file.

HOW TO BRING FURLOUGH TO AN END

What should I do?

For those employees that are returning to work, you should give notice in writing. There’s no prescribed minimum notice period for ending furlough, unless the issue of notice has been previously agreed as part of any furlough agreement.

In the absence of any agreement, you should still discuss with your employees about any plans to end furlough, encouraging them to raise any concerns or problems linked to their return and agreeing a convenient return date. This should be confirmed in writing (see below).

Even with the introduction of the government vaccination programme, many employees will have reservations about their health and safety in the workplace. As such, at the heart of any plans to end furlough should be a commitment to support flexible and remote-working where at all possible or, where working from home is not possible, facilitating a return to work in line with a COVID-secure workplace guidance.

What should an end of furlough letter include?

There is no set format for notifying an employee about the end of furlough. However, any letter should contain a clear statement that the furlough agreement is being brought to an end and the impact of this, for example, that they will be required to return to the workplace on a specific date, or that they will be required to start working from home as of that date.

In cases where an employee is required to return to the workplace, you should take care to describe the measures that have been implemented in the workplace to protect their health and safety, for example, the introduction of hand-sanitising stations and regular deep cleans.

If you would like a template, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

Last October we held a webinar to help consider what the next steps for your business might be, and how things might look in the new ‘normal.’ If you didn’t get chance to attend, or wish to watch it again, you can do so via the following link: https://youtu.be/gDbT5W1FTWA


16/08/2021

Change to Self-Isolation Rules

As from today, the Government has updated its guidance to reflect the new self-isolation rules, under which, those who have been fully vaccinated will not have to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

What do the new rules mean?

From 16 August, the self-isolation rules will be eased for individuals who are:

  • fully vaccinated; or
  • below the age of 18 years 6 months; or
  • have taken part in or are currently part of an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial; or
  • are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons.

An individual is considered to be fully vaccinated if they have been vaccinated with an MHRA approved Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, and at least 14 days have passed since they received the recommended doses of that vaccine.

The new rules mean that if you live in the same household as someone with Covid-19 symptoms, or with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, then you will no longer be required to self-isolate. The same applies if you have been identified as being in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

The new guidance states that even though eligible individuals are not legally required to self-isolate, they are advised to have a PCR test as soon as possible. However, this does not appear to be a legal requirement, and there is no need for such individuals to self-isolate while waiting for their test result.

In addition, individuals are also advised to consider taking certain steps to help reduce the risk of transmission, such as: 

  • limiting close contact with people outside their household, especially in enclosed spaces;
  • wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and where they are unable to maintain social distancing;
  • limiting contact with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable; and
  • taking part in regular lateral flow testing.

Individuals are advised to follow these precautions until 10 full days after their most recent contact with the person who has tested positive for Covid-19 (or, if that person is in the individual’s household, for the duration of that person’s self-isolation).

Contacts who do not meet any of the above criteria are still required to self-isolate for 10 days, as per the previous guidance. There is also no change to the self-isolation requirements for people with symptoms of possible Covid-19 and those who have received a positive Covid-19 test result. Individuals who develop symptoms at any time, even if these are mild, must self-isolate immediately, even if they are fully vaccinated. 

Who counts as a ‘contact’?

A contact is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, any time from 2 days before the person who tested positive developed their symptoms (or, if they did not have any symptoms, from 2 days before the date of their test), and up to 10 days after. The definition covers anyone who has had any of following types of contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19:

  • face-to-face contact, including being coughed on or having a face-to-face conversation within one metre;
  • been within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact;
  • been within 2 metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact or added up together over one day).

A person may also be a contact if they have travelled in the same vehicle as a person who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Steps for Employers

We recommend that you update your employees on the new rules of self-isolation.

You may wish to ask employees to tell you if they have had a relevant contact but do not need to self-isolate due to their vaccination status. You could also consider whether to encourage such employees to take a PCR test (although it is not a legal requirement).

Additionally, you may want to ask employees about their vaccination status so that you know in advance who would, and would not, be required to self-isolate as a contact, if someone in the workplace tested positive. This information is likely to be considered as ‘special category’ data. Therefore, unless there is a legitimate business reason for needing to know this information, you may not be able to enforce that your employees provide this.

In terms of keeping a record of this, this data is sensitive, and therefore you must put in place additional safeguards to protect it. 

You could consider using a simple spreadsheet to track this information, with your employees’ consent, and ensure it is password protected, and only accessed by necessary individuals. If you would like a template, please let us know.

Furlough scheme - reminder

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is in operation until 30th September 2021. This can be used for full or flexible furlough as required. All previous guidelines and eligibility still apply.

As a reminder, over the coming months, the employer contribution increases. Please see below for a summary. Please note that the employer continues to be responsible for all pension and NI contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 per month).

 

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

Government contribution to wages

60%

Up to £1,875

Employer contribution to wages

20%

Up to £625

Employee Received

80%

Up to £2,500

HOW HALLIDAYS HR CAN HELP

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


15/06/2021

Lockdown Easing DELAYED

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that the freedom day planned for 21st June has been pushed back by 4 weeks until 19th July, due to the rapid spread of the Indian variant (delta mutation). The extension is hoped to give extra time for more people to be fully vaccinated and protected against the virus.

This comes as unwelcome news for many business owners.

In terms of how this affects employers and the working environment, the Prime Minister confirmed that all previous COVID secure restrictions would still apply, apart from a few that are being lifted:

  • The number of guests at a wedding will no longer be limited to 30, although venues and hosts will have to do a risk assessment to ensure social distancing can take place (similar rules apply to wakes);
  • Care home residents will not necessarily have to self-isolate after leaving their care homes, and they will be able to nominate an "essential care-giver" who can visit, even if they are self-isolating;
  • Children can go on overnight trips in groups of 30 with, for example, the Scouts or Guides, or as part of summer residential school trips; and
  • Large events pilots will continue, including more Euro 2020 games and a number of other sports, arts and music

The furlough scheme continues to be in operation, to help business owners during this time.

FURLOUGH SCHEME - REMINDER

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is in operation until 30th September 2021. This can be used for full or flexible furlough as required. All previous guidelines and eligibility still apply.

As a reminder, over the coming months, the employer contribution increases. Please see below for a summary. Please note that the employer continues to be responsible for all pension and NI contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 per month).

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

Government contribution to wages

80%

Up to £2,500

70%

Up to £2,187.50

60%

Up to £1,875

Employer contribution to wages

0%

10%

Up to £312.50

20%

Up to £625

Employee Received

80%

Up to £2,500

80%

Up to £2,500

80%

Up to £2,500

CLAIMING FURLOUGH IF THE DEADLINE IS MISSED

As a reminder claims must be submitted by the following dates:

Claim for furlough days in

Claim period must be submitted by:

May 2021

14 June 2021

June 2021

14 July 2021

July 2021

16 August 2021

August 2021

14 September 2021

September 2021

14 October 2021

If you have missed the claim deadline, for claim periods from 1 November 2020, HMRC may accept late claims if you have all of the following:

  • a reasonable excuse;
  • taken reasonable care to try and claim on time; and
  • claimed without delay as soon as you were able

You may have a reasonable excuse if for example:

  • your partner or another close relative died shortly before the claim deadline;
  • you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your claim;
  • you had a serious or life-threatening illness, including Coronavirus related illnesses, which prevented you from making your claim (and no one else could claim for you);
  • a period of self-isolation prevented you from making your claim (and no one else could make the claim for you);
  • your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online claim;
  • service issues with HMRC online services prevented you from making your claim;
  • a fire, flood or theft prevented you them from making your claim;
  • postal delays that you could not have predicted prevented you from making your claim;
  • delays related to a disability you have prevented you from making your claim; and or
  • an HMRC error prevented you from making your

ABSENCE FROM WORK – SIDE EFFECTS OF COVID VACCINE

Any absence due to side effects of the vaccination should be treated sympathetically and with appropriate leniency.

The government guidance ‘COVID-19 vaccination: what to expect after vaccination’ states that there are some very common side effects of the vaccination which include:

  • having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your This tends to be worst around 1 to 2 days after the vaccine;
  • feeling tired;
  • headache; and or
  • general aches, or mild flu like

If an employee has side effects from the vaccination and is unable to work, this should be recorded as a normal sickness absence and not as a COVID sickness absence which is specifically for when someone has the primary COVID infection. Normal SSP should be paid, and you will be unable to claim this back.

If an employee becomes ill with COVID symptoms after they have had the vaccination, they should stay at home, inform their manager and follow the government guidance. As an alternative to SSP, perhaps an employee could book some annual or flexi leave for the day after their vaccination. They may also be able to choose to have their vaccination on a day before a non-working day. Otherwise, normal sick leave arrangements apply.

HOW HALLIDAYS HR CAN HELP

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


12/05/2021

Entering Step 3 of the Road Map

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that from Monday 17th May, England would continue as planned to Step 3 of the ‘Road Map’ out of lockdown. This comes as a great sigh of relief to many business owners.

For clarity, steps 3 and 4 are detailed below:

STEP

DATE FROM

DETAILS

STEP 3

17th May

  • Restaurants and pubs able to start serving indoors.
  • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs to reopen.
  • Indoor entertainment to reopen.
  • Adult indoor sports/exercises classes to resume.
  • Large events to reopen but with capacity restrictions depending on whether they are indoor or outdoor.
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment venues to reopen.
  • Domestic overnight stays allowed.
  • Rule of 6 or 2 households able to socialise indoors.
  • Up to 30 able to socialise outdoors.
  • Hugging of loved ones allowed – with caution & common sense applied.
  • International travel - traffic light system.

STEP 4

21st June

  • No legal limits on social contact or at life events.
  • Nightclubs to reopen.
  • Larger events to reopen.

In terms of how this affects employers and the working environment, the Prime Minister confirmed that all previous COVID secure restrictions would still apply and that they are currently working on guidelines which will help employers prepare for a ‘return to normal’, ahead of Stage 4 on 21st June 2021. These guidelines are expected at the end of May 2021.

Hugging and close contact is for loved ones only and should not be common practice in the workplace at this time.

FURLOUGH SCHEME - REMINDER

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is still in operation until 30th September 2021. This can be used for full or flexible furlough as required. All previous guidelines and eligibility still apply.

As a reminder, over the coming months, the employer contribution increases. Please see below for a summary. Please note that the employer continues to be responsible for all pension and NI contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 per month).

 

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

Government contribution to wages

80%

Up to £2,500

70%

Up to £2,187.50

60%

Up to £1,875

Employer contribution to wages

0%

10%

Up to £312.50

20%

Up to £625

Employee Received

80%

Up to £2,500

80%

Up to £2,500

80%

Up to £2,500

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


19/04/2021

The Recovery Loan Scheme

The Recovery Loan Scheme supports access to finance for UK businesses as they grow and recover from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Up to £10 million is available per business. The actual amount offered, and the terms, are at the discretion of participating lenders.

The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender. As the borrower, you are always 100% liable for the debt.

The scheme is open until 31 December 2021, subject to review.

Loans are available through a network of accredited lenders, listed on the British Business Bank’s website.

Eligibility

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is trading in the UK

You need to show that your business:

  • would be viable were it not for the pandemic
  • has been adversely impacted by the pandemic
  • is not in collective insolvency proceedings (unless your business is in scope of the Northern Ireland Protocol in which case different eligibility rules may apply)

Businesses that received support under the earlier COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes are still eligible to access finance under this scheme if they meet all other eligibility criteria.

Who cannot apply

Businesses from any sector can apply, except:

  • banks, building societies, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • public-sector bodies
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

What you can get

  • term loans or overdrafts of between £25,001 and £10 million per business
  • invoice or asset finance of between £1,000 and £10 million per business

No personal guarantees will be taken on facilities up to £250,000, and a borrower’s principal private residence cannot be taken as security.

How long the loan is for

The maximum length of the facility depends on the type of finance you apply for and will be:

  • up to 3 years for overdrafts and invoice finance facilities
  • up to 6 years for loans and asset finance facilities

How to apply

Find a lender accredited to offer Recovery Loans from the list on the British Business Bank website: Recovery Loan Scheme: current accredited lenders - British Business Bank (british-business-bank.co.uk)

Cash flow planning

Cash flow and business planning in these uncertain times may appear difficult, but there are some practical steps you can take to minimise potential disruption to your business:

  • Review your Budgets and set realistic and achievable targets for the remainder of 2021.
  • Get your employees involved in a discussion of likely trading conditions and get their input on reducing costs and maintaining revenues. 
  • Review and flow chart the main processes in your business (e.g. Sales processing, order fulfilment, shipping etc.) and challenge the need for each step.
  • Put extra effort into making sure your relationships with your customers are solid.
  • Review your list of products and services and eliminate those that are unprofitable or not core products/services.
  • Review efficiency of business processes and consider alternatives such as outsourcing certain activities locally or overseas.
  • Agree extended payment terms with all suppliers in advance.
  • Pull everyone together and explain the business strategy and get their buy-in.

Source: https://www.the2020group.com/2020-innovation-covid-19-resources/

How Hallidays can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) Update

The government has published the latest details on the CJRS and here is a summary of recent changes:

Calculations

Guidance on calculating how much you have to pay your furloughed employees for hours on furlough and how much you can claim back, has been updated with new maximum wage tables and claim dates.

See: Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Find examples to help you calculate your employees' wages

Check examples to help you calculate your employee's wages, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions if you're claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

See: Find examples to help you calculate your employees' wages - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Section on employee transfers under TUPE and on a change in ownership has been updated.

See: Check which employees you can put on furlough to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Steps to take before calculating your claim

The section about employee reference dates added and changes made throughout the page to include employee reference dates.

See: Steps to take before calculating your claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Penalties for not telling HMRC about CJRS overpayments - CC/FS48.

If you have received a grant but were not eligible or you have been overpaid, find out what penalties you may have to pay if you do not tell HMRC.

See: Penalties for not telling HMRC about Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant overpayments - CC/FS48 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Source: https://www.the2020group.com/2020-innovation-covid-19-resources/#1586343108439-97468396-5a33

How Hallidays can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


19/03/2021

What the vaccination programme means for my business

The COVID-19 vaccination roll out has provided a ray of optimism after a challenging year for us all, but it has also raised some tricky workforce issues. The last couple of weeks have seen many businesses wondering what their rights are when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. Do employers have the right to enforce coronavirus vaccinations in the workplace? Can we really dictate the message of ‘no jab, no job’ to our employees?

Clearly some people are concerned about the vaccine and certainly no one should be forced into accepting it. Legislation specifically provides that a person must not be required ‘to undergo medical treatment’, which makes vaccination a completely individual choice. This could be based on safety concerns, or due to other protected characteristics. Without a doubt, as an employer, you must honour your employees’ choice.

Encouraging employees to be vaccinated to protect themselves, colleagues, clients or customers and others in the workplace is likely to be considered a reasonable step.

Please see below some key questions, and answers, that you might have:

Can I keep asking my employees whether they have had the vaccine?

You can ask if an employee has had the COVID-19 vaccine. However, there may be data protection implications of doing so (see below).

Can I ask new starters to evidence that they have had the vaccine if they are eligible? What about my existing employees?

As per below, this information is likely to be considered as ‘special category’ data. Therefore, unless there is a legitimate business reason for needing to know this information, you may not be able to enforce that your employees provide this.

Can I keep records of an employee having had their vaccine?

Holding information on whether or not an employee has had the vaccine is likely to be considered a ‘special category’ under data protection law. This means that the data is sensitive, and therefore you must put in place additional safeguards to protect it. 

You could consider using a simple spreadsheet to track this information, with your employees’ consent, and ensure it is password protected, and only accessed by necessary individuals. If you would like a template, please let us know.

Can I organise shift patterns/those working in the office based on those that have had the vaccine?

Guidance suggest those who have had the vaccine are still required to follow the guidelines, as the vaccine only prevents you from being very poorly if you get COVID-19. It is not yet known if people who have had the vaccine can still unknowingly spread COVID-19 or catch it.

So, although the research doesn’t directly suggest you can or can’t do this, we would advise that people who have had the vaccine still have to follow the working from home guidance, and that them having already received their vaccine, cannot be the sole reason they are the chosen ones who are brought back into the office.

Should I allow employees time off work either paid or unpaid to have the vaccine?

Although there is no general right in law for an employee to have time off for medical appointments, most employers are likely to want to support the national push for vaccination and to allow employees to attend their appointments.

If the vaccination appointment does take place during working hours, there is no legal requirement for employees to be paid for that time. Nonetheless, you may choose to do so in order to incentivise your employees to get the vaccine and thus protect the health and safety of others.

You should, of course, also check your employment contracts and policies to see what rights your employees have around attending medical appointments.

Can I ask an employee to change their appointment to a more convenient time?

Where possible, we would recommend you allow employees to attend their vaccination at the time slot they have been allocated. Especially where employees are working from home, attending a local appointment is likely to cause minimal business interruption.

However, if you have a valid reason not to allow an employee to attend their designated slot (for example if they do shift work that cannot be covered by anyone else, or they work on a site away from home) then it may be possible to ask the employee to reschedule the appointment. If employees are offered a choice of appointment times, it would be fair for you to ask that employees choose a time that minimises disruption to the business.

Should lateral flow tests for those with school age children be encouraged?

The government has confirmed twice-weekly testing using rapid lateral flow tests will be given for free to all families and households with primary, secondary school and college aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, to help find more COVID-19 cases and break chains of transmission.

Obviously, if you have parents within your workforce, this will be a useful way to reduce the spread of the virus within your business and should be encouraged, but not enforced.

Can I introduce regular on-site testing, and what can I do if employees refuse?

Government guidance requires anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to arrange a test. As an employer you have a duty to protect the health and safety of your employees, it is likely that you can reasonably instruct an employee exhibiting symptoms to be tested. If the employee tests positive, you will be alerted to the risk of transmission at the workplace and can take action to mitigate that risk. If the employee fails to follow your instruction to arrange a test, you may be justified in taking disciplinary action against them.

However, it may not be reasonable for you to require an employee to be tested if they are not exhibiting symptoms (for example, as part of a routine testing programme to identify possible asymptomatic cases). Whether testing is reasonable in these circumstances will depend on the extent to which the risk of COVID-19 cannot be managed in the workplace by other measures, such as social distancing and remote working.

In some welcome news, all employers, including those with under 50 employees are now eligible for workplace testing for COVID-19. However, businesses will need to register their interest by 31 March to access the free service.

This can be done by registering here: https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests

You may even like to consider rolling out a Company vaccination policy that sets out your stance on vaccinations and testing. We would be more than happy to help you pull this together.

Can I sanction an employee for refusing a test?

Before taking disciplinary action for refusal to consent to testing, you must consider the employee’s individual circumstances and any mitigating factors, as individuals may have valid reasons for refusing to be tested. The requirement to be tested could also disproportionately affect some protected groups, such as those with certain disabilities. 

Potentially, it could be argued that this is a reasonable management request, due to it being a none invasive procedure. The key is to encourage the benefits of identifying asymptomatic cases.

Can you force an employee to have the coronavirus vaccine?

You can make it a workplace requirement that staff should be vaccinated, provided that this is reasonable in all the circumstances. There may be some settings, such as healthcare, where a requirement for employees to have the vaccine is reasonable and necessary. However, the majority of employers may find it difficult to justify such a requirement, particularly where other safety measures, such as social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, are available. 

Ultimately, you would be required to explore why they are refusing, and if this is a legitimate concern. Some employees may site health issues, allergies, religious or philosophical grounds. In this instance, if they can’t work from home, or in an isolated office, you may be able to suspend them. We would strongly advise you seek advise from us, if you are considering this.

Is there a health and safety obligation? If an employee refuses to be vaccinated, does this pose an issue for other employees in the office?

As an employer, you do have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of your workforce as far as reasonably possible. While requiring that employees have the vaccine may be a means of fulfilling those obligations, such a requirement can only be imposed if it is reasonable in all the circumstances. 

Where the requirement is not reasonable, you will need to rely on other measures to ensure the safety of employees, such as social distancing and the wearing of face coverings. In any event, however, no vaccine is 100 per cent effective and it is not yet known the extent to which people who have been vaccinated can still spread the virus. The current UK guidance is that these alternative safety measures should continue to apply to everyone, including those who have been vaccinated. 

If vaccinations cannot be made compulsory, what else can employers do?

You should provide guidance to employees about the vaccine and encourage them to have it if they are able to. Current UK guidance suggests that employers should support members of staff in getting vaccinated and talk to them about the benefits of vaccination.

Are there any discrimination risks around the vaccine?

Some people will not be able to have the vaccine due to certain characteristics that are protected under UK discrimination law (such as pregnancy or disability). If an employee is not able to have the vaccine because of a protected characteristic and they are treated less favourably than other employees who have been vaccinated as a result – for example, if you discipline or dismisses them – this could risk a rise in discrimination claims.

Does an employee have any rights if they refuse to get vaccinated? Will they lose their job?

Employees have an implied duty to obey their employer’s reasonable instructions and can potentially be dismissed for failure to follow such instructions. Whether or not an instruction is reasonable will depend on all the relevant circumstances. 

In the majority of cases, it is likely you will find it difficult to justify requesting your employees to be vaccinated as reasonable and therefore dismissing an employee who refuses to comply, could be considered unfair. In those circumstances, employees may have claims for unfair dismissal, provided they meet the applicable length of service requirement. 

Employees may also have other claims, such as for discrimination if they are unable to be vaccinated because of a characteristic that is protected under UK discrimination law and they are treated less favourably because of this.

Five ways to manage potential COVID-19 vaccination conflict in your workplace

  1. Continue to provide a safe environment

Regardless of the number of employees who accept the vaccine, you must ensure your workplace remains COVID-19 secure on a long-term basis. Support the need for excellent hygiene practices, provide plenty of hand washing facilities and maintain overall standards for health and wellbeing, irrelevant of a person’s personal choice.

  1. Encourage flexibility

You have a duty of care to your employees, which means taking the steps reasonably possible to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. Support individuals who wish to have the COVID-19 vaccine by offering flexibility in their working day and paid time off to attend medical appointments.

As mentioned above, you may like to consider rolling out a vaccination policy to encourage vaccine take up and COVID-19 testing. If you would like assistance with this, please let us know.

  1. Educate employees

Provide evidence and easy-to-understand information to enable your employees to make an informed decision about the vaccine. If you are keen for your employees to be immunised, look at developing a non-contractual policy that outlines the benefits and makes the vaccine process as seamless as possible.

  1. Listen to your employees

Listen to any concerns of your employees and take them seriously – no matter what your beliefs are. If they are needle-phobic or have anxieties about the vaccine, consider helping them get the right access to care.

  1. Put your employees first

Some employees will be facing personal and professional conflict over fears they may lose their job if they are not vaccinated. Make it a priority to put your employees at ease and remind them of your obligation to them is as their employer. Continue to provide the support systems that enable them to work in a productive and positive way and, above all, safeguard their mental and physical wellbeing especially if they have anxieties about the jab.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


12/03/2021

Whats on the horizon for 2021?

Return to work

With the mass roll out of the vaccines, it is hopeful that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we can all begin to resume some normality in our lives. This might be a ‘new normal’ for many businesses, that have already had to adapt the way they work and may need to continue to do so for the foreseeable.

If not already done so, you might be starting to think about bringing back your employees in some capacity at work. As we know, the furlough scheme will finally come to an end as restrictions ease. Currently this is expected to happen on 30th September 2021.

At Hallidays HR, we have pulled together a return to work toolkit, that covers every eventuality for you when returning your employees during the pandemic. If you want to hear more, let us know.

Eligibility to Furlough Scheme

For periods from 1‌‌ ‌May 2021 onwards, you will be able to claim for eligible employees who were on PAYE payrolls on 2 March 2021. This means you must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 2 March 2021.

Changes to Off-Payroll working rules (IR35) from April 2021

The changes to the off-payroll rules were due to come into effect on 6 April 2020. This has now been delayed until April 2021 because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The delay is to help businesses and individuals deal with the economic impact of COVID-19.

In April 2021, medium and large organisations in all sectors will become responsible for assessing the employment status of individuals who work for them through their own limited company. If, through testing, the relationship of the worker is more akin to that of an employee than self-employed, then the company will be responsible for PAYE and NI contributions on behalf of the individual.

Who did IR35 apply to previously?

The off-payroll working rules were introduced in 2000 and required that individuals who work like employees, but through their own company, paid similar taxes to employees within the business. However, the onus was on them to pay their own PAYE and NI contributions.

The reform was revised and extended to the public sector in 2017.

Who will these rules extend to from April 2021?

All of those above, plus medium and large organisations within the private sector.

For your company to be classed as a ‘small’ business (as defined by the Companies Act 2006) and therefore exempt from the new rules, it must meet two of the following qualifying conditions:

  • an annual turnover of less than £10.2m;
  • a balance sheet total less than £5.1m;
  • less than 50 employees.

Organisations whose turnover exceeds £10.2m in one calendar year must operate the off-payroll working rules from the start of the following tax year.

What should you do now?

If you are a medium or large organisation, the new rules require private sector organisations, which engage workers via a personal service company (PSC), or other similar intermediary, to undertake checks to determine whether the worker should be treated as an employee or as self-employed for tax purposes.

The regulations state that you should have a process in place to test the employment status of your workers and that this should be clearly documented (with reasoning) and communicated to each party involved, including the worker.

Testing employment status is a complex area and there are no clear answers. It is determined on the balance of several things and depends on the facts of each individual engagement.

The main areas to look at are:

  • Mutuality of Obligation;
  • Control;
  • Personal Service.

If the tests indicate a relationship that is more akin to employment, it will be your responsibility to operate pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) and national insurance contributions (NICs) on payments made to the PSC.

You can find out more by checking the employment status of your workers: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-employment-status-for-tax

National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage

The 2021 National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates effective from 6th April, are detailed below:

 

Rate from April 2020

Rate from April 2021

Increase

National Living Wage

£8.72

£8.91

2.2%

21-22 Year Old Rate

£8.20

£8.36

2.0%

18-20 Year Old Rate

£6.45

£6.56

1.7%

16-17 Year Old Rate

£4.55

£4.62

1.5%

Apprentice Rate

£4.15

£4.30

3.6%

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – 2021/2022

£ 96.35 per week paid after 3 waiting days for a maximum period of 28 weeks.

If the sickness is COVID-19 related, you can pay SSP from Day 1 and also reclaim the first 2 weeks from HMRC if you are eligible.

Statutory Maternity Pay

  • First 6 weeks at 90% of Average Weekly Earnings (AWE).
  • Then 33 weeks at £ 151.97 or 90% of AWE (whichever is the lower).

Statutory Paternity/Adoption Pay

£ 151.97 or 90% of AWE (whichever is the lower).

Uber drivers are workers – rules the Supreme Court

Following a long running case, the Supreme Court has now concluded that Uber drivers are workers and not self-employed.

This means that they are entitled to a number of claims, such as: minimum wage (including backpay) and 5.6 weeks paid annual leave.

This judgement does not give them ‘employee’ rights, such as the right to a redundancy payment or to claim unfair dismissal. However, this case is a reminder to carefully consider the relationship you have with staff, and the ramifications for incorrectly identifying those who are genuinely self-employed versus those who are workers/employees.

Brexit: Impact on recruitment overseas

Back in October 2020, we shared a mailer with you about the implications of Brexit on recruitment.

In summary, if you want to recruit overseas nationals, unless the migrant has an alternative route of entry, you will need to sponsor the migrant through either the Skilled Worker or Tier 2 (ICT) visa routes. This will significantly increase the time it takes to recruit (arranging sponsorship through these routes can take several months) and it can be expensive; you will need to pay a fee to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to the migrant (£199) and the Immigration Skills Charge (£1,000 per migrant per year of sponsorship). The migrant will also need to pay for the visa itself (costing between £409 and £1,480) and the Immigration Health Surcharge, currently £624 per year.

Please refer to the mailer, for further information.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


04/03/2021

Budget 2021 – Extension to furlough

Yesterday, the Chancellor announced the Budget for 2021. His key message was that he would continue to support businesses and livelihoods even after the ‘road map’ out of lockdown had expired, to help with the aftermath of COVID-19.

There were a number of announcements made, but those particularly relevant to employers are detailed below:

Furlough Extended to September 2021

Rishi Sunak announced that the furlough scheme, which was due to come to an end at the end of April, will be extended for a further 5 months – until the end of September 2021. 

There will be no change as to how the scheme is run during this time, or who will qualify.

March, April, May, June

For the next few months, the scheme will not change. The employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month and the government contribution will be the full 80%.

Employers will continue to be responsible for paying all NI & pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

July

From 1st July, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 70%.

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 70% of salary or a maximum of £2,187.50 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 10% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

August & September

From 1st August, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 60%.

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 60% of salary or a maximum of £1,875 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 20% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

Increased Investment in Apprenticeships & Traineeships

The incentive payment to hire an Apprentice has been increased from £2,000 to £3,000. It has also been extended until September 2021.

There will also be a new "flexi-job" apprenticeship programme in England that will enable apprentices to work with a number of different employers in one sector.

There will also be additional funding high quality work placements and training for 16-24 year olds in 2021/22 academic year.

The Kickstart scheme continues to operate.

Additional Business Support

Extension to the VAT cut to 5% for hospitality, accommodation and attractions across the UK until the end of September, followed by a 12.5% rate for a further six months until 31 March 2022.

New Restart Grants – a one off cash grant of up to £18,000 for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses in England.

Business rates relief for eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will benefit from business rates relief.

For a full and comprehensive list of all announcements and commitments made within the Budget, please see the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/budget-2021-what-you-need-to-know

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


23/02/2021

Coronavirus COVID-19: Road Map Out of Lockdown

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced the ‘Road Map’ out of lockdown for England. Some light at the end of the tunnel! The plan contains 4 steps, with a minimum of 5 weeks between each. If all goes to plan, the following steps and associated timescales will apply:

STEP

DATE FROM

DETAILS

STEP 1

 

8th March

29th March

All schools and colleges to open. 

Practical higher education courses to resume – all other courses to remain online until at least Easter (subject to review).

Wraparound childcare to reopen.

Able to meet 1 person outside your household in a park to socialise, but no indoor mixing.

The clinically vulnerable are advised to continue shielding until at least 29th March.

Rule of 6 or 2 households able to socialise outdoors (including private gardens).

Outdoor sport and leisure facilities to reopen (including organised sport).

The guidance is to still minimise travel. 

There are no holidays or overnight stays.

STEP 2

 

12th April

Rule of 6 or 2 households able to socialise outdoors (including private gardens and beer gardens).

Non-essential shops to reopen.

Personal care premises can reopen – hairdressers; nail and beauty salons.

Outdoor attractions – zoos; theme parks; drive-in cinemas to reopen.

Indoor gyms to reopen (but not group classes).

Indoor libraries and community centres to reopen.

Indoor children’s activities to reopen.

Restaurants and pubs to reopen – serving outdoors only, but no restrictions on curfew or the serving of food.

Holiday lets can reopen, overnight stays are allowed, but household only.

No international travel.

STEP 3

17th May

Rule of 6 or 2 households able to socialise indoors.

Up to 30 able to socialise outdoors.

Restaurants and pubs able to start serving indoors.

Hotels to reopen.

Large events to reopen but with capacity restrictions depending on whether they are indoor or outdoor.

Remaining outdoor entertainment venues to reopen.

Domestic overnight stays allowed.

International travel to commence, subject to independent review.

STEP 4

21st June

No legal limits on social contact or at life events.

Nightclubs to reopen.

Larger events to reopen.

At every stage the government has advised that people should continue to work from home where they can. Guidance around the wearing of face masks and social distancing is subject to separate review. 

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

National Support

It is suspected that there will be a financial plan to accompany this phased return to normality. However, Boris Johnson did not give details at last night’s press conference. 

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is due to deliver the Budget on 3rd March and it is expected that some clarification will be given then.

Once we have more details, we’ll be in touch.

Local Support

Stockport Council has recently launched 2 new grant schemes for businesses who have not previously been eligible for the Government’s Covid-19 business grant support schemes:

  1. Businesses with 50 employees or more who can demonstrate the strategic impact their business has on the borough. The scheme is intended to provide financial grant support to help businesses survive and preserve jobs through the challenging conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by helping with their operational costs and overheads. For further information on eligibility criteria and application process please visit: https://www.stockport.gov.uk/support-scheme-for-large-strategic-employers
  1. For micro businesses without separate business premises please visit: https://www.stockport.gov.uk/news/new-covid-grant-for-stockports-micro-businesses-is-now-open-to-applications

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


12/02/2021

Coronavirus COVID-19: What more can employers do to help reduce the spread?

As we end our 5th week of our third national lockdown, it’s hard not to think ‘will this ever end’. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. The spread of COVID-19 is reducing. Yesterday, the death toll was 754, compared to 1,820 at the height of the second peak. But that’s still too many.

So, what more can you do as employers to reduce the spread in your local area and keep your workforce working?

Communication

We are all aware of the straplines ‘Stay Home; Protect the NHS; Save Lives’ and ‘hands; face; space’, but are your workforce? Is there more you could be doing to promote these messages?

To reinforce the message and to show your commitment, you could use the following mediums and resources:

  • Posters – Put up government (or your own) posters raising awareness of the basic messages;
  • Videos – Stockport Council have produced an awareness video that you could show on communal TVs around your site or send via email (the video is attached to the covering email of this mailer). You could also use short videos of your own;
  • Team Meetings – Hold them virtually where possible, or if not, then ensure that your Management are a role model and any meetings are held in an appropriately socially distanced, safe way;
  • Email – send regular emails supporting the main messages.

Going the Extra Mile

The government guidance and risk assessments cover the bare minimum of what you need to do in order to be compliant whilst working during the pandemic. But there is so much more that could be done. In a recent focus group, the following ideas, suggestions and initiatives were discussed.

These are detailed below:

  • Enforce the wearing of masks in all areas;
  • Create a 24 hour ‘hotline’ for the immediate reporting of positive coronavirus test results;
  • Pay full pay to anyone who is absent from work with COVID-19 or self-isolating;
  • Introduce proximity alarms – these go off if anyone is within 2 metres;
  • Set up a coronavirus email inbox, so that anyone can ask a question re: coronavirus at any time;
  • Increase the number of smoking shelters, or at the very least, restrict the number of employees present at any one time;
  • Hazzard tape on touch points;
  • Disciplinary action for repeat violations to the rules;
  • Upskilling managers so that they can handle a pandemic world – metal health; bereavement; remote working; conflict;
  • Discouraging car sharing, perhaps by promoting the governments bike to work scheme;
  • Promote wellbeing by providing the ‘Headspace’ App;
  • Carry out regular employee surveys;
  • Self-cleaning door handle wrap;
  • Install air cleaning and filtration units;
  • Print hi-vis vests and other items of uniform with government slogans on.

What extra help is available?

Stockport council are putting together a couple of pilot schemes and would like to hear from any businesses in the local area that might be interested.

The first scheme is to pilot the use of lateral flow tests in workplaces, or via a mobile testing unit. This would allow early detection within your workforce and could prevent an outbreak. The scheme is available to any company with more than 20 employees working in the local area.

The second scheme is to ‘try before you buy’ with bikes and social distancing alarms.

If you are interested in being part of either of these pilot schemes, then let the Hallidays HR team know and we will pass your details on to Stockport Council and they will be in touch directly.

Of course, the Hallidays HR team are always here to help too. So, if you’d like to discuss any of the above with us, please do not hesitate to do so.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


08/02/2021

Chancellor eases burden on more than a million businesses through Pay as You Grow flexible repayment options

Businesses that took out government-backed Bounce Back Loans to get through Covid-19 will now have greater flexibility to repay their loans, the government announced today (8 February).

The Treasury’s Pay as You Grow repayment flexibilities enable borrowers to tailor their repayment schedule, with the option to extend the length of their loans from six to ten years (reducing monthly repayments by almost half), make interest-only payments for six months or pause repayments for up to six months.

The Chancellor has now extended the flexibility of the third option, which will now be available to all from their first repayment, rather than after six repayments have been made. This will mean that businesses can choose to make no payments on their loans until 18 months after they originally took them out.

These Pay as You Grow options will be available to more than 1.4 million businesses which took out a total of nearly £45 billion through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

This is in addition to the government covering the costs of interest for the first year of the loan.

Pay as You Grow’s additional support, first announced by the Chancellor in September, will give borrowers the option to tailor repayments to their individual circumstances.

This will provide more time and greater flexibility to repay the loans.

From today, lenders will begin reaching out to borrowers to provide information on repayment schedules and how to access flexible repayment options.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

Businesses are continuing to feel the impact of extended disruption from Covid-19, and we’re determined to give them the backing and confidence they need to get through the pandemic.

That’s why we’re giving Bounce Back Loan borrowers breathing space to get back on their feet, through greater flexibility and time to repay their loans on their terms.

Lenders will proactively and directly inform their customers of Pay as You Grow, and borrowers should only expect correspondence three months before their first repayments are due.

It will provide businesses with the following options:

  1. Extend the length of the loan from six years to ten
  2. Make interest-only payments for six months, with the option to use this up to three times throughout the loan
  3. Pause repayments entirely for up to six months

Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, added:

The comprehensive and generous financial support package we have delivered across the UK has protected jobs, saved businesses and kept local economies on the move.

While our vaccine rollout is moving at an incredible pace and the end is in sight, we know times are still tough for many companies and extra support is needed.

These flexible repayment options will give businesses the time they need to recover from the pandemic before paying back loans, giving them the breathing space and confidence to build back better.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-eases-burden-on-more-than-a-million-businesses-through-pay-as-you-grow-flexible-repayment-options

Council to launch one-off grant for Stockport micro-businesses not previously in scope for Government Covid-19 business grant support

Businesses that have so far not qualified for financial grant support during the national restrictions put in place since 04/11/2020 will be able to apply to Stockport Council for a one-off grant payment of up to £1,000.

Specifically aimed at micro-businesses without separate business premises, the new grant scheme will look at providing support for ongoing business-related overhead costs only. The scheme will not provide a wage subsidy or cover any expenses normally required to run a home, such as utilities.

Qualifying businesses are encouraged to apply as soon as the applications open this Thursday morning, February 11th, at 9am for grants of between £200 and £1,000. Grant levels awarded will be based on the amount of qualifying ongoing business cost overheads that are appropriately claimed and evidenced.

The fund is capped at £1 million and will be processed on a first-come-first-served basis until the funds run out. It is vital that businesses fully complete their applications and submit all evidence required as incomplete or incorrect applications will be rejected and businesses will have to reapply and consequently will be further down the list of applicants seeking to access the limited funding.

Applications will be online via Stockport Council’s website and further information about the scheme with the link to the application will be published in the next two days.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/council-to-launch-one-off-grant-for-stockport-micro-businesses-not-previously-in-scope-for-government-covid-19-business-grant-support/


27/01/2021

How to convert your Bounce Back Loan (BBL) into a CBILS

Did you originally try to secure a loan for your business through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) but were rejected by the bank and turned to the Bounce Back Loan (BBL) instead?

If you are looking to borrow more than £50,000, the limit for the BBL, The British Business Bank, who manage both BBL and CBILS are allowing businesses to convert their BBL into a CBILS instead, as long as the new loan settles the original. Learn how one of our partners, Johnson Reed Business Finance can support you with converting the loan and the benefits of each type.

How to maximise your return on a Government Bounce Back or CBILS Loan

If you have received a Government Bounce Back loan or Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), loan schemes that were introduced to help smaller businesses impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19), then there are important steps to follow in order to ensure you maximise your return on these finance facilities.

With the British Business Bank recently confirming that over one million businesses have received a total of almost £29.5bn in Bounce Back Loans and over 50,000 businesses have received £11lbn in CBILS loans, it is important to consider the next steps as this may be the cheapest business finance in a generation, and making the most of that is essential to ensuring businesses continue to trade and prepare for the future, whatever that may hold.

What to do next?

Government CBILS and Bounce Back Loans may be considered the cheapest money in a generation, which may make it tempting to pay off debt and other finances. However, having worked with numerous businesses in our years of experience, we would suggest that there are smarter, alternative ways to use that valuable facility, giving your business stability and potential to grow.

By maximising the returns on your finance facilities you can:

  • Support your cash flow
  • Stabilise your business
  • Invest long term in your business
  • Maximise tax position
  • Maximise business potential
  • Keep reserves for a rainy day

By using your finance facilities to invest in your business in the form of modern, state of the art equipment, using a leasing facilityasset finance or part-finance, you can maximise the potential of your business by keeping cash in the company, improving and enhancing cash flow whilst also providing the best service for your customers, clients and businesses you work with.

This is likely to help stabilise your business in the long-term, by investing in new or better equipment, your business can be better at what it does, as opposed to using the funds to pay off debts or other finance, which may seem attractive in the short term, but might not help to increase sales, turnover and profit. In considering your options, the long-term view is a sensible approach that will help the future of your business.

What should I use my CBILS or Bounce Back Loan for?

Once you have successfully secured your loan, you should look at maintaining your cash flow whilst investing in areas of your business that are going to make it more successful going forward. Regardless of the industry or sector your business operates in, if you need equipment which takes a chunk of cash from the business then finance and leasing is always a sensible option, and now more than ever with cash being its most valuable in your bank, keeping hold of reserves for a rainy day. By managing cash flow and spreading the payments of assets, you can grow your business whilst keeping the bank balance sensible and healthy.

How Hallidays can help

If you are interested in converting your BBL into a CBILS instead, speak to your regular Hallidays contact or call 0161 476 8276 to speak to a member of the team or email hello@hallidays.co.uk for further support.

Source: https://www.johnsonreed.co.uk/blog/maximise-return-on-bounce-or-cbils-loan

Council expands eligibility for discretionary grant schemes

Stockport Council has announced it is expanding its discretionary grant schemes to support a greater range of businesses affected by the pandemic.

The support will see businesses outside of the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors become eligible for both the Stockport Additional Restrictions Grant scheme and the Local Restrictions Support Grant for Open Businesses, affecting organisations that were impacted during the lockdown from 5th November to 2nd December, and subsequent periods of lockdown. Support will be backdated to the first date of eligibility.

The discretionary schemes allow councils to support businesses that have missed out on other support as they do not have a business rates liability. Stockport Council is adding a number of sectors to those already eligible for the schemes; these are:

  • Children’s nurseries
  • Travel agencies and travel businesses
  • Aircraft and aerospace businesses/suppliers
  • Events businesses with premises costs
  • Education sector suppliers
  • Kennels/catteries with premises costs
  • Businesses which have a significant fleet cost of multiple vehicles
  • Supply chain businesses from sectors other than hospitality and leisure, that have separate business premises outside of the home, and which have had their trade substantially negatively impacted because of reduced/limited trading of end point businesses.

To be eligible for the Stockport Additional Restrictions Grant scheme bus also meet the following criteria:

  • Businesses that have been significantly negatively affected by being forced to close by national restrictions announced on 31 October 2020 and that came into force on the 5th November 2020, where companies are not covered under the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Scheme but have significant fixed costs which are not related to employment.
  • Businesses which are strategically important and/or provide a significant number of jobs.
  • Business with premises and fixed property costs. Those businesses which effectively work from home have not been included as the ARG guidelines prohibit wage support and direct the self-employed to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) or Universal Credit.
  • Businesses with a registered address in the Stockport Borough Council area have been eligible for this scheme. The business will need to be trading within the Stockport Borough.
  • The business must have been actively trading on and before the 4 November 2020.

The following businesses have not been eligible to receive a grant, and this continues to be the case:

  • Businesses that are able to continue to trade because they do not depend on providing direct in-person services from premises and can operate their services effectively remotely and/or online;
  • Businesses in areas outside the scope of the localised restrictions as defined by Government;
  • Businesses that have chosen to close but are not required to;
  • Businesses that have already received grant payments that equal the maximum levels of State Aid permitted under the de-minimis and the Covid-19 Temporary State Aid Framework;
  • Businesses that were/are in administration, are insolvent or where a striking off notice has been made at the date of the local lockdown; and
  • Businesses that are still subject to national closures (e.g.: nightclubs) as they are covered by other schemes.
  • Businesses that are subject to enforcement action for not complying with Covid-secure operating practices.

Businesses will need to be able to demonstrate that they have fixed property costs and demonstrate a loss in income as a result of the pandemic.

The Council has not yet received funding for the Local Restrictions Support Grant for Open Businesses scheme for the period following the end of the lockdown on 2nd December 2020. Once confirmation of funding from central government has been received, Stockport Council will resume accepting applications and making payments.

The Council is also working on ways to make repeat payments for eligible businesses to eliminate the need to reapply. If your business has already successfully applied and received payment for either of the discretionary grant schemes, please do not reapply for additional periods of restrictions as this may delay future identification and processing of repeat payments.

Source: https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/council-expands-eligibility-for-discretionary-grant-schemes/


20/01/2021

How to handle HMRC time to pay rejections

Some taxpayers and advisers using the online service to defer tax due on 31 January 2021 are getting rejected. Rebecca Cave investigates what’s going wrong and how to work around any problems.

HMRC’s time to pay deferral process is in big demand this winter. Many taxpayers are facing a log-jam of tax debts due this quarter, including income tax and VAT that was automatically deferred from 2020.

The total tax payable by an individual taxpayer by 31 January 2021 will be made up of the following tax debts:

  • balancing income tax payment for 2019/20
  • second income tax payment on account for 2019/20 – deferred from July 2020
  • first income tax payment on account for 2020/21 – half of total 2019/20 liability
  • any capital gains tax for 2019/20
  • classes 2 and 4 NIC for 2019/20.

Taxpayers who are VAT registered may also have VAT liabilities that have been deferred from payment in the period 20 March to 30 June 2020, which now need to be paid by 31 March 2021. This VAT debt can be delayed further using a different online deferral system, which will open in the next few weeks. 

Automatic online deferral

HMRC anticipated that a large number of taxpayers would need to defer tax due in January, so it created an instalment mechanism to allow individual taxpayers to apply for time to pay the tax debts now falling due.

To use this automatic process the taxpayer must agree to pay the tax monthly by direct debit, with a target of clearing the debt within 12 months. The taxpayer must also meet all of these conditions:

  • has submitted their 2019/20 self-assessment tax return
  • has no earlier tax returns outstanding   
  • their tax debt must be at least £32 and not exceed £30,000 
  • they have no other tax instalment plans in place.

If any of these conditions are not met the system will deliver the result: “not eligible for an online payment plan”.

One problem could be that HMRC has the 2019/20 SA tax return, but has not processed it yet, so the tax liability for the year hasn’t yet fed into taxpayer’s personal tax account. This can take up to 72 hours after the SA return is submitted.

There have also been problems with HMRC having to use manual intervention to process some tax returns that include claims for the transferable marriage allowance or entrepreneurs’ relief. Such manual intervention will slow up the processing of the return.

How to apply

To take advantage of the self-serve tax deferral, the taxpayer needs to log in to their government gateway, for which they will need their user ID and password. The user ID can be set up as part of the application process. Tax agents cannot use the automated system on behalf of their clients.

The taxpayer can choose how many instalments they need to spread their tax bill over in 2021, but all the late paid tax will accrue interest at 2.6% until it is paid.   

The instalment plan must be set up no later than 60 days after the due date for the tax, which means the time to pay agreement must be in place by 31 March. If the 2019/20 tax debt is still outstanding at 31 March 2021, and no payment plan is agreed, an automatic penalty will be imposed at 5% of the outstanding tax.   

Speak to HMRC

Where the self-serve tax deferral system says “no”, the taxpayer or the tax agent, can call the self-assessment payment helpline on 0300 200 3822 to negotiate a reasonable time to pay plan. This service is open from 8am to 6pm on weekdays.

This helpline should always be used if the total tax debt exceeds £30,000.

Before calling HMRC have all of the following to hand:

  • taxpayer’s UTR number or NI number
  • taxpayer’s name and address
  • a contact telephone number
  • details of the tax payment to be deferred
  • details of any tax repayments the taxpayer is waiting for.

Source: https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tax/business-tax/how-handle-hmrc-time-to-pay-rejections?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=AWUKTAX180121&utm_content=AWUKTAX180121+CID_d4d2d357d9e1a107cafa63fe28993a34&utm_source=internal_cm&utm_term=Read%20more


18/01/2021

Supreme Court backs small firms over business interruption insurance claims

Insurers are being urged to pay up without delay after judges dismiss the industry's arguments over the disputed claims.

Small firms are cheering a Supreme Court ruling that forces insurers to pay out on disputed coronavirus business interruption claims worth at least £1.2bn

Judges were asked to set the parameters for valid claims from various policies following a test case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with the support of eight insurance companies last summer.

The High Court judgment, handed down in September, was widely seen as supportive for the bulk of the estimated 370,000 companies said to be affected by the dispute but prompted appeals by both sides.

A broad range of firms including pubs, cafes, wedding planners and beauty parlours argued they faced ruin when they were turned down by insurers for business interruption policy claims on losses caused by the first national COVID-19 lockdown.

Six of the world's largest commercial insurers Hiscox, RSA, QBE, Argenta, Arch and MS Amlin, told the Supreme Court in their appeal that many business interruption policies did not cover widespread disruption.

The legal process was fast-tracked to the highest court in England and Wales which rejected the insurers' arguments and said it had "substantially allowed" the appeal brought by the FCA and an action group to clarify the position.

One of the judges, Lord Briggs, said in the ruling: "On the insurers' case, the cover apparently provided for business interruption caused by the effects of a national pandemic type of notifiable disease was in reality illusory, just when it might have been supposed to have been most needed by policyholders.

"That outcome seemed to me to be clearly contrary to the spirit and intent of the relevant provisions of the policies in issue."

The Hiscox Action Group (HAG), representing 400 claimants, hailed the ruling as a "massive boost" for UK businesses.

It claimed a "full victory" and added: "The decision has been unanimous against Hiscox et al."

One HAG committee member, Mark Killick, suggested that a number of companies to have joined the action had folded since the case was originally brought.

He said: "This judgment should finally mean that our members as well as businesses across the country will get the insurance they paid for.

"Quite what possessed an industry that claimed 'my word is my bond' to destroy its own reputation is beyond me."

Hiscox shares were trading more than 4% down after the ruling.

It is unclear whether the decision will prompt a flood of further claims.

Huw Evans, director general of industry group the Association of British Insurers, responded: "Insurers have supported this fast-track legal process every step of the way and we welcome the clarity that the judgment will bring to a number of complex issues.

"Today's judgment represents the final step in the appeal process.

"The insurance industry expects to pay out over £1.8bn in COVID-19 related claims across a range of products, including business interruption policies.

"Customers who have made claims that are affected by the test case will be contacted by their insurer to discuss what the judgment means for their claim."

He added: "All valid claims will be settled as soon as possible."

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-supreme-court-backs-small-firms-over-business-interruption-insurance-claims-12188322


07/01/2021

New lockdown grants announced

Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are to receive a one-off grant worth up to £9,000, the Chancellor announced on 5th January.

The Chancellor announced one-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the Spring. In addition there is a £594 million discretionary fund also made available to support other impacted businesses.

The grants will be provided on a per-property basis to support businesses through the latest restrictions, and is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties, worth £4 billion in total across all nations of the UK.

A further £594 million is also being made available for Local Authorities and the Devolved Administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants, that might be affected by the restrictions. Businesses should apply to their Local Authorities.

The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000
  • any business which is legally required to close, and which cannot operate effectively remotely, is eligible for a grant

Business support is a devolved policy and therefore the responsibility of the devolved administrations, which will receive additional funding as a result of these announcements in the usual manner:

  • the Scottish Government will receive £375 million
  • the Welsh Government will receive £227 million
  • the Northern Ireland Executive will receive £127 million

We will keep you up to date with further details as and when the Governments release information.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/46-billion-in-new-lockdown-grants-to-support-businesses-and-protect-jobs?utm_source=a170333b-b9af-49fe-9451-4c803aad4511&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily

For England, the eligibility guidance can be seen at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-your-business-is-eligible-for-a-coronavirus-grant-due-to-national-restrictions-for-closed-businesses?utm_source=91047667-9914-4b82-bf64-0a22ccd9fd94&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme rules have been updated

In view of the national lockdown the Government has released Information about employees unable to work because they have caring responsibilities.


05/01/2021

National Lockdown

At 8pm last night, Boris Johnson announced that England will enter Alert Level 5 – National Lockdown – with immediate effect. The lockdown is set to last until at least 15th February 2021.

In summary, the restrictions which directly impact employment and businesses are:

  • People are told to “Stay Home; Protect the NHS; Save Lives”;
  • People should only leave their home where they have a ’reasonable excuse’;
  • All those that can work from home should do so;
  • Work which cannot be done from home, can continue (including tradespeople, nannies and cleaners);
  • Construction & manufacturing workplaces can remain open;
  • All schools will close (but will remain open for vulnerable and key worker children);
  • All colleges and universities will close;
  • All nurseries and early years settings will remain open;
  • All non-essential retail will close but can remain open for click and collect and delivery;
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close, but can still provide takeaway (excluding alcohol) and delivery (including alcohol);
  • Indoor & outdoor leisure facilities and entertainment venues will have to close – gyms, swimming pools, beauty salons, hairdressers, bowling alleys, cinemas etc;
  • Avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport;
  • Overnight stays outside of your household or support bubble are prohibited;
  • Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be asked to resume shielding and should not attend work;
  • Support and childcare bubbles continue to be allowed.

What is the Impact?

Business

The increased restrictions may mean that you have to close some, or all, of your business. You may need to move employees back to working from home or place more on furlough. All previous guidance on how to do this remains relevant, but if you need further support or would like to talk it through, then please get in touch.

The government have confirmed that there will be no additional financial support packages available. So, businesses are advised to make the most of what is already out there.

Childcare/Home-schooling

For those previously in Tier 4, the changes to operational business may not be drastically different. However, with the closure of schools, there is the distinct possibility that this is going to cause significant disruption within your workforce.

Many employees with school age children will now be responsible for looking after their children at home and home schooling them until at least February half-term (which ends on Sunday 21st February). 7 weeks from now.

In this scenario, the key is talking to your employees who have children to find out their situation. Ask them:

  • How are they going to cope?
  • Will they still be able to come to the office (if this is still necessary and they can’t work from home)?
  • Could they work from home? Would they be willing to? Do they have the equipment to do so?
  • If they are already working from home, how do they think this will impact them?
  • Do they need to work different hours, or have an increased level of flexibility?
  • Would they like to take some time off? 

In terms of support employers can offer, there are several options available:

  • Working from Home – for some or all of the time if not already doing so.
  • Flexibility – around hours and days of work to be able to fit around childcare responsibilities.
  • Childcare Bubbles – employees may not be aware that they can form a childcare bubble with another household for any children under the age of 14. Employees may also want to consider enlisting family members to help with school teaching and support virtually via Zoom for example. 
  • Furlough – if an employee meets the CJRS eligibility criteria and they are unable to work (including from home) due to childcare responsibilities as a direct result of Coronavirus, then they can be furloughed and placed on to the scheme – either fully or flexibly. 
  • Time Off to Care for Dependents – this is emergency, short term, unpaid leave to allow parents to find childcare for the longer term. This will be helpful initially, or if children are ill or showing symptoms in the current climate, but not long term.
  • Parental Leave – this applies to employees with more than 1 years’ service. Parents are entitled to take up to 4 weeks’ unpaid leave per year for each child under the age of 18 (up to a maximum of 18 weeks). 
  • Annual Leave – to avoid the unpaid element, employees may have some annual leave they can take to cover some or all of the period of absence they may need. Businesses may also wish to consider allowing employees to use some of next years’ allowance or giving a few days extra holiday as a gesture of goodwill.

Shielding

Those that have been advised to resume shielding will be done so via a text and followed up with a letter. These employees should not be allowed to work and should be placed on furlough.

Other Implications

We appreciate that these are extremely uncertain times for everyone, whether your business is forced to close of not. 

The impact of a yet another national lockdown may also have a significant impact on your teams’ mental health and well-being – so now, more than ever, it is crucial to have a plan in place and to keep in touch with them. We’d be more than happy to support you with this.

Additional Information

Here is the link to the full government guidelines for this lockdown -

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/949536/NationalLockdownGuidance.pdf

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


18/12/2020

Furlough Extended Until 30th April 2021

This afternoon, the Chancellor announced that the government is going to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS or furlough scheme) by 1 month, until the end of April 2021.

This comes as Greater Manchester, and many other regions across the UK, either remain or are placed, in Tier 3 for the foreseeable future, having a continued significant impact on many businesses. This announcement gives many the clarity needed to plan through the pandemic.

What does the extended scheme look like?

The scheme will continue to pay up to 80% of wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month.

Throughout the scheme, employers will not have to contribute towards wages for unworked hours, but they will be responsible for paying all pension and NI contributions associated with the 80%.

Will flexible furlough still be in operation?

You can continue to be able to choose between full or flexible furlough, depending on your business needs.

Has eligibility changed?

No. This is the same as per our previous mailer. 

Other Business Announcements

The Chancellor also announced that access to government loan schemes will be extended from 31st January 2021 to 31st March 2021. This includes the Bounce Back Loan Scheme; Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


27/11/2020

Coronavirus COVID-19: Out of Lockdown 2

On Tuesday 24th November, Boris Johnson announced that England would be released from Lockdown 2 as planned on Wednesday 2nd December 2020. From this date, all regions in England would be placed back into a 3 Tier Alert system, as before, but with stricter restrictions.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced which regions would be entered into which tiers. Unfortunately, Greater Manchester and many other boroughs in the North, were placed into Tier 3 – having an ongoing significant impact on businesses.

COVID-19 3 TIER ALERT SYSTEM - REVISED

The 3 tiers are as follows:

LEVEL

RESTRICTIONS

TIER 1

MEDIUM

  • Rule of 6 indoors & outdoors.
  • Pubs & restaurants open – table service only. Last orders at 10pm, close at 11pm.
  • Shops, gyms and personal care services can re-open.

TIER 2

HIGH

  • No household mixing indoors.
  • Rule of 6 outdoors – including private gardens.
  • Pubs can only open if they serve substantial meals. Alcohol can be served with those meals.
  • Pubs & restaurants – last orders at 10pm, close at 11pm.
  • Spectator sports can resume with up to 50% capacity or max of 2,000 spectators.
  • Non-essential foreign travel allowed, but subject to quarantine.
  • Shops, gyms and personal care services can re-open.

TIER 3

VERY HIGH

  • No household mixing indoors or outdoors in private gardens.
  • Rule of 6 in other outdoor spaces – parks, beaches, countryside.
  • All hospitality venues must close – bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants. Take-away or delivery only.
  • Indoor entertainment venues must close – bowling alleys, cinema etc.
  • Spectator sports cannot resume.
  • Avoid travelling in and out of the area – including overnight stays elsewhere.
  • Shops, gyms and personal care services can re-open.

In addition to the above, all schools and universities will remain open, informal support/childcare bubbles can continue and you should work from home if you can.

The restrictions will be reviewed every 2 weeks. The first review will be on 16th December 2020. However, with Christmas imminent, it is unlikely that the tier levels will decrease at this time.

CORONAVIRUS JOB RETENTION SCHEME - DECEMBER

The announcement of the tiers will have had a significant impact on many businesses and those that had hoped to open from 2nd December, may not now be allowed.

Thankfully, for December the CJRS is still running at 80% of salary up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month. With employers only having to pay NI and pension contributions. 

One change to be aware of from 1st December, is that notice periods can not longer be claimed for under the scheme. 

Remember, that as of 1st November, all claims MUST be submitted by the 14th of the following month.

If you are luckily enough to be able to re-open your business and return your employees from furlough (either fully or flexibly) then there is no amount of notice required to do so, but it is advised to confirm it in writing.

CHRISTMAS

On Wednesday 25th November, it was announced that we would be able to spend Christmas with our loved ones. A bubble of up to 3 households will be allowed between 23rd and 27th December – a 5 days period.

The only point to mention on this from an employer point of view, is that you may experience an increase in holiday requests for this period. So, if you haven’t already got a system in place, it would be a good idea to do so. 

If you are feeling extra generous, or are in the financial position to do so, perhaps you could consider giving employees an extra days’ leave ‘on us’ as a thank you for all their hard work, commitment and dedication during this tough year? Just a thought.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


26/11/2020

The Council’s Discretionary Grant Schemes for businesses are now open for applications

If your business is not eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grants, it may be eligible for a discretionary grant.

There are two discretionary grant schemes available for eligible, qualifying businesses:

  1. The Local Restrictions Support Grant (for open businesses), and;
  2. The Additional Restrictions Grant (for the latest period of National Restrictions from 04/11/20 and 02/12/20)

Information about the discretionary grant schemes, eligibility and the online application form are available at this link - Discretionary Grant Schemes - Stockport Council

Source: economyws@stockport.gov.uk


23/11/2020

Government Coronavirus aid for business

There are a number of schemes that the government is providing to help businesses during the coronavirus crisis. Some schemes are coming to an end, whilst new support is also being introduced. This is a summation of the main schemes that are available.

Job Support Schemes

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) was put in place to cover periods from March 2020 during which employers were unable to offer full working hours to their employees as a result of coronavirus. Employees were to remain employed but were not to undertake any work for the employer. The rules for claims are changing from 1 November 2020. It should be noted that 30 November 2020 is the last day for claims for periods up 31 October 2020. The scheme from 1 November provides employers with grants of up to 80% of the salary of employees, capped at £2,500 a month.

The extended Scheme will permit both full and flexible furlough which means it provides assistance to both businesses who are required to close, and those who can stay open but face reduced demand. It is open to all UK employers including those that have not used the Scheme before. Employees will be eligible for entrance into the extended Scheme if they were on the employer’s PAYE payroll on 30 October 2020. The employer must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between the 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020, notifying a payment of earnings for that employee.

There are different rules for different types of employees. The UK Government has provided guidance for different types of employees (such as supply teachers and apprentices) at https://tinyurl.com/C19empl. This includes links to different situations in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Employers must agree with employees that they are to be furloughed. This agreement must be consistent with employment, discrimination and equality laws. A written record of the agreement needs to be kept for five years including the number of hours employees work and the number of hours they are furloughed.

Employees can be fully furloughed (not undertake any work for the business) or flexibly furloughed (working for the business for some hours and on furlough for other hours when they would normally be working). Whilst employees cannot work for the business, nor organisations linked or associated with the employer, whilst on furlough they can take part in training, volunteer for another employer or organisation or work for another employer.

Taxes and National Insurance is to be deducted from any amounts paid to employees including furlough scheme grants. Pension contributions also need to be paid. From 1 August 2020 employers will not be able to claim for employer NICs and pension contributions. Employers retain the same rights that they have at work, such as Statutory Sick Pay, annual leave, maternity rights, redundancy payments etc.

The steps to take when calculating the amount to claim under the furlough scheme can be found at https://tinyurl.com/C19claimamt. This page has links to pages that help calculate the claim and the web page where a claim can be made online.

The Kickstart scheme pays the wages of 16-25 year olds on Universal Credit that go on 6 month work placements. In addition, employers can claim £1,000 for new traineeships for 16-24 year olds. Grants of £2,000 are payable for new apprenticeships created for under 25s, and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 or over in the period 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021. It has been confirmed that the Kickstart Scheme will continue despite the extension to the Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme).

Where 30 or more placements are to be created applications can be made at https://tinyurl.com/C19kstart. Applications where fewer placements are created can be made at https://tinyurl.com/C19KStrt.

Self-Employed Income Support

Grants are available for the self-employed that were trading in 2019/20 with profits of less than £50,000 in 2018/19 or less than £50,000 on average in the three years to 2018/19. A grant (which was taxable) of up to 80% of average monthly profits, with a maximum grant of £7,500, and payable in a single amount covering three months of profits. A second grant was made available in June 2020 for 70% of average monthly profits for a further three months, and capped at £6,750. The government has recently announced it will make a third grant for a three-month period 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021. This is calculated at 80% of three months average monthly trading profits paid in a single installment and capped at £7,500. The online service for the third grant will be available from 30 November 2020.

A further grant may also be made for the period from 1 February to 30 April 2021 depending on the Covid-19 circumstances.

Business Rates

Business rates are no longer being charged in the retail, hospitality and leisure centres. The relief varies in each country of the UK.

In England businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. This includes shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, cinemas, music venues, sports clubs, gyms hotels, guest houses and self-catering accommodation. In addition, nurseries will not have to pay business rates in England if the nursery is on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and provides care and education for children up to five years old. Local authority nurseries are not eligible for the relief. The local council should apply the rebate automatically to all these sectors in England and the local council should be contacted if the relief is not given.

A similar 100% relief applies in Scotland to retail, hospitality and leisure business. This is again applied automatically. In addition, all non-domestic properties in Scotland get a 1.6% rates relief, reversing the change in poundage for 2020/21.

In Wales there are various relief schemes for different sectors. This includes:

  • Retail, leisure and hospitality rates relief scheme;
  • Small business rates relief scheme;
  • Charitable and non-profit organisations rates relief; and
  • Empty property relief.

The specific relief for Covid-19 is that all retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £500,000 or less receive a 100% rate relief in 2020/21. The details of the various rate relief schemes are at https://tinyurl.com/busratewales.

In Northern Ireland the 2020/21 business rates bill issued in August 2020 will indicate whether a four-month or 12-month rates holiday has been granted. The four-month rates holiday (1 April to 31 July 2020) applied to all business ratepayers except the public sector and utilities. The twelve-month rates holiday applies to businesses in the hospitality, tourism, leisure, retail, childcare and airport sectors. If a 12-moth holiday has not been granted and the business believes that it should have been Land and Property Services should be contacted on 0300 200 7801.

Cash Grants

The government is increasing the cash grants to businesses in England that are closed in local lockdowns to help support fixed costs. These grants are linked to rateable values and up to £3,000 per month (payable fortnightly) is available compared to the £1,500 every three weeks that was previously available. These maximum amounts are paid to business with a rateable value of £51,000 or above for each 14-day period the business is closed. Businesses with a rateable value less than £51,000 will get reduced grants. Applications are to be made through the local council’s website. Similar grants are payable in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (see below).

Loans for Businesses

Various loans are available to businesses. These are guaranteed by the government to ensure their availability and the rate of interest. The largest businesses can obtain a Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility. This is a one-year commercial paper loan t rates similar to those charged before the Covid-19 crisis. Businesses with a turnover of over £45 million can apply for Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme loans. The government will guarantee 80% of the loan with a maximum loan of up to £25 million for borrowers with a turnover up to £250 million and £200 million for larger businesses.

SMEs are eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. These loans have no interest or fees in the first year and are 80% guaranteed by the government. Loans of up to £5 million are available to businesses with a turnover of up to £45 million with a personal guarantee from the business for the remaining 20%. Loans below £250,000 do not require any guarantee. It has recently been announced that the government guarantee is being extended so lenders will have the ability to extend the length of the loans from a previous maximum of six years to ten years.

The bounce back loan scheme for SMEs provides loans of between £2,000 and 25% of turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000 with 100% of the loan guaranteed by the government. Loans originally had to be repaid in six years, but that has now been extended to ten years. No interest or fees are charged for the first 12 months and interest of 2.5% will be charged after 12 months. Interest only payments can be made for a period of up to six months (and this facility can be utilised three times in the period of the loan) and an application can be made to suspend payments for up to six months (but only on one occasion and only after at least six payments have been made).The scheme is open to applications up until 31 January 2021. Loans are available to businesses that are based in the UK, established before 1 March 2020 and have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus. Bounce back loans cannot be claimed by businesses that are claiming Business Interruption Loan Schemes, Large Business Interruption Loan Schemes and the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility.

The Future Fund provides government loans to UK based companies for amounts of £125,000 to £5 million subject to equal matching by private investors. The scheme is open to applications until 31 January 2021 and applications are to be made to the British Business Bank. These loans are convertible loans for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access other government business support programs as they are either pre-revenue or pre-profit.

VAT and Income Tax

Employers are eligible for a temporary income tax and national insurance contributions exemption where they reimburse employee costs for necessary equipment purchased by employees to enable them to work from home.

VAT has been cut from 20% to 5% for food and non-alcoholic drinks from pubs, bars cafes and similar premises and for accommodation and attractions. This cut in the VAT rate will now end on 31 March 2021.

VAT payments to HMRC have been deferred for the period 20 March to 30 June until 31 March 2021. This no longer needs to be paid as a lump sum, but can be paid in 11 repayments in the 2021-22 financial year; no interest is due on these deferred amounts. HMRC will introduce and opt-in process in the New Year.

In addition, there is a deferral of the self-employed personal income tax for taxpayers with up to £30,000 in income tax liabilities. These payments will benefit from a 12-month extension. Thus, payments deferred from July 2020 and those due in January 2021 do not need to be paid until January 2021. Other time to pay tax liabilities can also be agreed with HMRC for other tax and VAT liabilities.

Other assistance

The government has created the future fund to support high growth companies that are facing financial difficulties.

Cash grants are available for small businesses and SMEs focusing on research and development.

Businesses with fewer than 250 staff will be refunded sick pay payments for two weeks. Guidance on Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme can be found at https://tinyurl.com/C19SPay.

Specific relief in Northern Ireland

There are a number of specific reliefs that are available in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

In Northern Ireland this includes, but is not limited to:

  • Taxi Drivers Financial Assistance Scheme;
  • Heritage Recovery Fund;
  • Grants of up to £500,000 for organisations in the arts and cultural sector;
  • The New Apprentice Incentive Scheme;
  • Business and Planning Support Scheme;

A cash grant is available in Northern Ireland, the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme. This is financial support for businesses that are required to close or severely limit operations. This scheme is open to cafes, pubs, restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfast establishments, close contact services (such as hairdressers, spars, nail bars, tattoo parlors, etc. and any other business required to close under the Health Protection Regulations. The amount of grant paid will vary according to the Net Annual Value of the Property. The largest grant of £1,600 per week is payable to a business in sole occupation of a property with a NAV of more than £51,000. Further details can be found at https://tinyurl.com/C19NILRSS.

Northern Ireland also operates a Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme for businesses that are required to close under the Health Protection Regulations but are not eligible for the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme. Also eligible are businesses that have not been forced to close but is part of the direct supply chain to a business that is forced to close. Eligible businesses will receive a grant of £600 a week for each week that the Health Protection Regulations are in place.

The various support schemes for Northern Ireland can be found at https://tinyurl.com/C19NIsupport.

Specific relief in Scotland

Extra support in Scotland is detailed at https://tinyurl.com/C19Scotrelief. This includes, from 16 November 2020, the Flexible Workforce Development fund that is available to levy payers and SMEs for training costs. Levy payers can access up to £15,000 and SMEs can access up to £5,000 through college and Open University Training in 2020/21. There are also schemes for relief for creative freelancers, a screen hardship fund and a culture collective fund.

Cash grants are also available in Scotland through the Strategic Framework Business Fund. This is available to a business that is required to close by law or significantly change its operations. Applications are to be made through the local authority website. The amount of the grant varies according to the rateable value of the property occupied by the business. The maximum grant is £3,000 for a four-week period where the rateable value is over £51,000. A maximum of £15,000 in any four-week period can be claimed by a business operating from multiple premises. Grants are not payable to businesses that are not mentioned in the eligibility guidelines, that have breached Covid-19 regulations or have connections to tax havens.

Specific relief in Wales

Wales is operating an Economic Resilience Fund through local councils. This is more complex than other cash grant schemes. A £1,000 payment is available to businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief occupying a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses forced to close in the firebreak lockdown occupying a property with a rateable value between £12,001 and £51,000 will be eligible for a £5,000 payment. Further discretionary grants are available. A £2,000 grant may be available to a business forced to close due to the lockdown occupying a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less. £1,000 may be available where the business is materially affected by the lockdown for 21 days or more prior to the start of the lockdown.

Details of the Economic Resilience Fund are available at https://businesswales.gov.wales/coronavirus-advice/. This also includes details of assistance various business sectors including but not limited to the innovation and cultural sector taxi businesses and life sciences, amongst other sectors.

Further information

Further information can be obtained from the UK government website at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support

Five furlough changes you need to know

The government has now published its official guidance for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until 31 March 2021.

The long-awaited government guidance confirms many of the details surrounding the extended furlough scheme for employers.

Overall, it outlines that despite the increase in flexibility that the extended scheme provides when compared to its original incarnation in March, such as permitting flexible furlough from the start.

The government have also placed further restrictions on its usage that we have not seen before. Likely to keep its ongoing cost down.

Furloughed staff serving a notice period

A crucial point is the situation regarding making claims for furloughed staff who are serving their notice period. Previously there were no restrictions on this, and staff could be made redundant even if they were currently on furlough.

Now, it seems that the government are going to be a bit stricter in this regard, suggesting that from December they may prohibit claims for those who are serving notice periods.

While this has yet to be confirmed, it would be consistent with previous government plans for the furlough scheme’s planned replacement, the Job Support Scheme before it was indefinitely postponed; claims were not to be permitted for those serving a notice period.

Maternity leave

There is also a significant change confirmed for staff who wish to return from maternity leave early to be instead placed on the Job Retention Scheme and therefore receive more money.

They now need to provide at least eight weeks’ notice of their intention to do this, and their employer cannot place them on furlough until these eight weeks are up. This does provide less freedom for staff in this position, and employers will need to make sure that all employees seeking to return off maternity leave early are aware of this.

Depending on their situation, it may be more advisable for them to remain on the leave as planned.

Annual leave

On a more positive note, the government have clarified that rules on taking annual leave while furloughed are to remain the same; those who do take it must be paid in full for this time.

Sick leave

They have also provided further guidance for furloughed staff who fall ill, suggesting that, generally, it will be down to employers if they keep them furloughed or class them as on sick leave and therefore start paying them SSP if they qualify.

However, future amendments to the guidance will hopefully clarify this further and employers should approach this situation with caution for now.

TUPE staff

Another central point to consider is guidance on whether staff that has transferred over to a business under TUPE can be furloughed. As before, it seems that this will depend on when the transfer took place, critical dates for which being specified in the guidance.

Going forward, it is essential that employers familiarise themselves with this guidance as much as possible and regularly check it for updates. It should be remembered that the furlough scheme has seen numerous amendments since it was originally implemented, a trend that does seem likely to continue over the next few months.

 Source: https://www.accountancydaily.co/five-furlough-changes-you-need-know

Preparing for the CBILS application deadline

A second wave and a new lockdown - it’s a less-than-ideal scenario. Non-essential businesses have been once again forced to shut their doors for at least 4 weeks, and no-one knows what is on the horizon past that.

With the increased uncertainty, December trading, typically a boom for most businesses, will be different from prior years it is now more important than ever for accountants to be speaking to their clients. Businesses need help preparing and planning and capital advisory is an essential part of that. Especially given that eight out of ten accountants say that their SME clients are unaware of their funding requirements and risks over the next 6 months, according to research done by ACCA UK and the CFN.

Avoid the last minute rush

Thankfully the government has extended the Coronavirus Business Interruptions Loan Scheme (CBILS) application deadline to the 31st of January, but this does not mean businesses should be using this as a target date, especially given that it’s also the self assessment deadline. In the leadup to the original September cut-off time lenders were inundated with applications and turnaround times moved from days to weeks. We still have not seen this normalise, and the general sentiment is that this will continue to be the case, especially given most people will be taking time off in December. 

There are many businesses who have benefited from the British Business Bank schemes already but plenty more who are yet to take advantage . To give you some context, there are an estimated 5.9 million small businesses in the UK, with only around 73,000 of them having taken CBILS lending thus far, and just over 1.3 million that have taken Bounce Back Loans (BBLs). The average size of a Bounce Back Loan is £29,000, less than the average salary of one business director.This means there are still almost 5 million businesses who have not benefited from any type of government funding as of yet. 

Help clients plan ahead

As accountants, you are best placed to consult your clients on the range of capital products available to them, especially given that 80% of businesses apply to just one lender, their bank. At Capitalise we have access to over 30 of the accredited CBILS lenders, and we are here to support you in helping your clients. We have successfully secured offers on over 70% of the applications we have released to lenders, and we will continue to work hard to ensure businesses have access to the capital they need. 

To help you out we have put together this guide of the most important CBILS information to help your conversations with clients:

Important Dates

  • Applications close: January 31th 2021 

Benefits of CBILS

  • Borrow anywhere from £50,001- £5,000,000
  • No repayments for the first 12 months 
  • All fees covered by the government 
  • No interest payable for the first 12 months
  • Maximum borrowing of 25% of 2019 turnover
  • No personal guarantees up to £250k (multiple loans can be taken across different providers)
  • Cheaper rates than have been historically available 
  • Refinancing of Bounce Back Loans for larger quantums

Types of funding available

  • Term Loans
  • Asset finance
  • Invoice Finance
  • Property Finance
  • Refinancing of existing debt

Eligibility Criteria For Businesses

  • UK-based in its business trading activity
  • Have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million
  • Have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the current pandemic
  • Self-certify that it has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Not have been classed as a “business in difficulty” on 31 December 2019 (loss making)


Typical Information Required

Lenders will sometimes ask for additional information; however, it is always good to collect the below initially when preparing applications.

  • Loan amount, purpose, and term
  • A short paragraph on the business background and how it has been impacted by Covid-19
  • Last 2 full sets of filed accounts
  • Bank statements covering November 2019-present (PDF format & no older than 7 days)
  • Shareholder details
  • Up to date management accounts
  • Current debt position 

Tier 1 banks will generally ask for the following as well:

  • Aged debtor and creditors list
  • Cash flow forecasts

Questions to consider when speaking to clients

If the answer is yes to any of the questions below, it is worth having a separate conversation to find out if your client should apply or not.

  1. Have you been declined by your bank for a CBILS loan? 
  2. Have you taken a bounce back loan? If so, will the amount received be enough to get you through the next 12 months?
  3. Do you have historic debt over a year old? 
  4. Have you ever financed any of the assets on your balance sheet? 
  5. Do you have lengthy payment terms with some debtors? 
  6. If you were to experience a business shock (ie a large unpaid invoice, another lockdown, breakdown of plant machinery) do you have enough cash to survive this?
  7. If you have deferred payments (ie VAT, suppliers etc) do you have enough to cover these costs?
  8. Have you taken a CBILS loan of £250k but need more?


At Capitalise we have access to over 30 of the accredited CBILS lenders, and we are here to support you in helping your clients. With the deadline fast approaching, now is the time to be assisting your clients in planning for the future #leavenobusinessbehind

Source: https://capitalise.com/insights/preparing-cbils-deadline


12/11/2020

Apply for a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) enables smaller businesses to access finance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak.

The scheme helps small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25% of their turnover. The maximum loan available is £50,000.

The government guarantees 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months. After 12 months the interest rate will be 2.5% a year.

The scheme is open to applications until 31 January 2021.

If you already have a Bounce Back Loan but borrowed less than you were entitled to, you can top up your existing loan to your maximum amount. You must request the top-up by 31 January 2021.

Eligibility

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • was established before 1 March 2020
  • has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus

If your business was classed as a business in difficulty on 31 December 2019 you’ll need to confirm that you’re complying with additional state aid restrictions.

Who cannot apply

Businesses from any sector can apply, except:

  • banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • public-sector bodies
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

If you’re already claiming funding

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under:

If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under one of these schemes you can transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme. You have until 31 January 2021 to arrange this with your lender.

How long the loan is for

The length of the loan is 6 years, but you can repay early without paying a fee. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months.

Before your first repayment is due, your lender will contact you about further options to:

  • extend the term of your loan to 10 years
  • move to interest-only repayments for a period of 6 months (you can use this option up to 3 times)
  • pause your repayments for a period of 6 months if you have already made at least 6 repayments (you can use this option once)

How to apply

There are 28 lenders participating in the scheme including many of the main retail banks. You should approach a suitable lender yourself via the lender’s website.

The lender will ask you to fill in a short online application form and self-declare that you are eligible.

The lender will decide whether to offer you a loan or another type of finance and you’ll be responsible for repaying 100% of the amount borrowed.

If the lender turns you down

If one lender turns you down, you can apply to other lenders in the scheme.

You may want to consider using a broker to find the right type of finance for your needs, or do your own research using the British Business Bank’s finance guide.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan#history


11/11/2020

Coronavirus COVID-19: Extended Furlough UPDATES

Yesterday, the government published some additional guidance for the extended CJRS, which started on 1st November 2020 and will run for the next 6 months. The main points are detailed below. These points are in addition to the information given in our previous mailer, so please ensure that you are familiar with both.

Claims

Claims for the period up to and including 31st October 2020 should be submitted by 30th November 2020. This includes any ‘balancing’ that needs to be done as a result of over or under claims being made. After 30th November, you will not be able to make any further claims for the period prior to 31st October 2020.

All claims from 1st November 2020 must be submitted by the 14th of the following month. So, for example, all claims for November, must be submitted by 14th December 2020. This is an important new change to be aware of, as it is different to the previous scheme.

The new claims portal will open today – 11th November 2020.

There is no maximum number of employees that can be claimed for. Nor a minimum length of time someone must be furloughed for. Both full and flexible furlough options remain available.

Holidays can continue to be claimed for under the scheme, but as before, must be ‘topped up’ to 100% pay. Someone cannot be placed on furlough simply because they are due to be on holiday.

Anyone on statutory notice can continue to be claimed for, however, this does not apply to PILON or redundancy payments.

Eligibility

For an employee to be eligible they must have been on the payroll by 30th October 2020 and have an RTI submitted to HMRC between 20th March 2020 and 30th October 2020. They do not have to have been furloughed previously.

To be eligible for the grant, the employer must have confirmed to their employee in writing that they have been furloughed (either fully or flexibly).

If you are placing employees on furlough from 1st November, but do not currently have anything in writing, then it is important to do so by 13th November 2020. Failure to have an agreement in place by this time for any retrospective claims, will be rejected.

For those with lay-off/short-time working clauses in their contract, you will simply be able to send a letter to your employees confirming the situation – without the need for agreement or consultation. However, for those without such clauses, and if previous signed agreements were timebound, then you will need to enter into a further consultation and communication process to get their signed agreement to vary their terms and conditions temporarily in order to place them on furlough going forward.

Once these signed agreements are up and running, you can then simply email your employees to inform them of their varying furlough/working situation.

It is important to keep these records for 5 years, as was the case previously.

Re-employment

Anyone who left employment between 23rd September and 31st October 2020 can be reinstated and placed onto the furlough scheme.

There is no obligation on the employer to do so, it is simply an option.

When re-employing you can either:

  • Re-instate the employment relationship – whereby you re-hire on previous employment terms and the employee continues to be employed by the business and continues to receive all the benefits and rights associated with that employment. Or;
  • Re-instate without the employment relationship – whereby you could decide to re-hire someone purely to give them access to furlough scheme, but without any of the associated employment benefits of previous employment.

In both scenarios, it is important that your intentions are agreed, documented and signed. 

Additional reasons to furlough

Although there is no shielding in the current lockdown, the government has confirmed that if an employee is unable to work because they are clinically extremely vulnerable then they can be placed on furlough.

Also, if an employee is unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from COVID-19, including employees that need to look after children, then they can also be furloughed.

Those on long-term sick can be furloughed.

The guidance confirms that furlough should not be used for short-term absence or self-isolation, this should continue as sick leave and be paid SSP or company sick pay. However, if business reason dictate that there is a need for furlough, along with other employees, then they can be moved from sick to furlough accordingly. 

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


05/11/2020

Furlough Extended Until March 2021

This afternoon, the Chancellor announced that the government is going to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS or furlough scheme) until the end of March 2021.

They have acknowledged that evidence from the first lockdown showed that the economic effects are much longer lasting for businesses than the duration of the restrictions.

What does the extended scheme look like?

The scheme will continue to pay up to 80% of wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month.

Throughout November and December, employers will not have to contribute towards wages for unworked hours, but they will be responsible for paying all pension and NI contributions associated with the 80%.

The scheme will be reviewed in January to examine whether the economic circumstances are improving enough for employers to be asked to contribute.

Will flexible furlough still be in operation?

You continue to be able to choose between full or flexible furlough, depending on your business needs.

Has eligibility changed?

No. This is the same as per our previous mailer. 

Will I still be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus?

The Job Retention Bonus will no longer be available. The government have said that they will look at a suitable alternative when the time is right.

What about the Job Support Scheme?

The extended furlough scheme supersedes the JSS. At the moment, it is unclear as to whether the Job Support Scheme will run on after the extended furlough scheme has finished.

Are there any additional HR concerns?

As at the very beginning of the scheme, if you are placing anyone on furlough for the first time and you do not have lay-off or short-time working clauses in your contracts, then you will need to get each employees signed agreement to place them on furlough, as it constitutes a temporary change to their terms and conditions. For HR clients, if you need any help drafting this, please let us know.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

Furlough scheme extended to end of March

The coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) is to be extended until next March, marking a year of furlough, following the introduction of national lockdowns resulting in a deteriorating economic situation, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.

The furlough scheme was originally due to end on 31 October, and Sunak has already announced a one month extension for November, coinciding with tighter Covid-19 measures in England.

Addressing the House of Commons, Sunak has now said that it will be further extended until the end of March, with the government paying 80% of the wages of furloughed staff and employers paying only for employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) and pension payments for the hours not worked.

‘When we extended the scheme in November, people and businesses asked what would happen next, and this announcement is to give them certainty going forward,’ Sunak said.

This means the furlough scheme will have been in place for a year. Sunak said the Treasury would review the scheme in January, in order to assess whether employers should make more of a contribution.

Sunak said the extension came in response to a recent assessment by the Bank of England, which has intervened to offer a £150bn boost to the economy, saying that the downside risks had increased and highlighting significant uncertainty about the timescale for recovery.

As a result of the extension, the job retention bonus previously announced, which was supposed to support employers who retained previously furloughed staff until January, has been mothballed.

Sunak said it would be released incrementally ‘at the appropriate time’.

The Chancellor also announced that the next instalment of the self employed income support scheme for November to January will be increased to 80% of average profits up to a cap of £7,500, up from 55%.

He emphasised that the funding guaranteed for the devolved regions will be increased from £14bn to £16bn, to bring furlough payments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in line with England, so that the UK as a whole had the same level of support.

Under the previous three-tier system of Covid-19 measures, there had been criticism that some regions were missing out on support payments.

Sunak said: ’I’ve always said I would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK - and that has meant adapting our support as the path of the virus has changed.

‘It’s clear the economic effects are much longer lasting for businesses than the duration of any restrictions, which is why we have decided to go further with our support.

‘Extending furlough and increasing our support for the self-employed will protect millions of jobs and give people and businesses the certainty they need over what will be a difficult winter.’

Simon Michaels, partner at accountancy firm HW Fisher said: ‘Businesses will be able to breathe a sigh of relief for the first time in months. It’s not over yet, but an extension to furlough is a positive step. It continues to be a serious time for British business. 

‘This is the first time a longer term strategy for British business has been shared since March. The government has wasted time on short term updates, minor tweaks and knee jerk reactions – a longer term strategy is the key to building longer term business confidence.

‘The next step, is to focus on life beyond furlough – the scheme cannot last forever, and neither can other government support packages. We need to see an exit strategy and government should not delay on this.’

https://www.accountancydaily.co/furlough-scheme-extended-end-march

Government increases support for self-employed across the UK

The government is increasing its support to the self-employed over the coming months and ensuring people get paid faster than previously planned.

To reflect the recent changes to the furlough scheme, the UK-wide Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be made more generous – with self-employed individuals receiving 80% of their average trading profits for November.

And to ensure those who need support get it as soon as possible, payments will also be made more quickly with the claims window being brought forward from 14 December to 30 November.

The changes will ensure that self-employed individuals who temporarily cannot carry out their business or have suffered reduced demand due to the outbreak are supported over winter.

In addition, more businesses will be able to access additional support as deadlines for applications for government-backed loan schemes and the Future Fund have been further extended until 31 January 2021.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

So far we’ve provided £13.7 billion of support to self-employed people through the crisis - and I’ve always said we will continue to do everything we can to support livelihoods across the UK.

The rapidly changing health picture has meant we have had to act in order to protect people’s lives and I know this is incredibly worrying time for the self-employed. That is why we have increased the generosity of the third grant, ensuring those who cannot trade or are facing decreased demand are able to get through the months ahead.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

We know what an incredibly difficult time it has been for self-employed workers across the country. We are determined to support them.

Today’s measures will mean people will receive more money in their back pockets, faster, to help them through the winter months ahead.

As SEISS grants are calculated over three months, the uplift for November to 80 per cent, along with the 40 per cent level of trading profits for December and January, increases the total level of the third grant to 55 per cent of trading profits. The maximum grant will increase to £5,160.

This provides broadly equivalent support to the self-employed as we are providing to employees through the government contribution in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in November and then the Job Support Scheme in the two subsequent months.

So far, the government has provided £13.7 billion of support to self-employed people through the crisis, with the world-leading scheme among the most generous in the world.

In September, the Chancellor announced an extension of the SEISS to provide support throughout the Winter period, with two grants to cover the period until April.

The SEISS continues to be just one element of a comprehensive package of support for the self-employed. In addition to this they can also access other elements of the package which includes Bounce Back Loans, tax deferrals, rental support, mortgage holidays, and other business support grants.

These government backed loan schemes have already supported more than 1 million businesses to access over £60 billion of finance.

Further information

  • to be eligible for the Grant Extension self-employed individuals, including members of partnerships, must:
  • have been previously eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme first and second grant (although they do not have to have claimed the previous grants)
  • declare that they intend to continue to trade and either:
  • are currently actively trading but are impacted by reduced demand due to coronavirus
  • were previously trading but are temporarily unable to do so due to coronavirus
  • This follows the CJRS being extended until December. This provides broadly equivalent support to the self-employed as is being provided to employees through the government contribution in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in November and then the Job Support Scheme in the two subsequent months.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-increases-support-for-self-employed-across-the-uk?utm_source=dfa7e39f-439e-400a-9b0d-0de7bf9ea9b3&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily


03/11/2020

Furlough Scheme Extended and Further Economic Support announced

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended for a month with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked and further economic support announced.

People and businesses across the UK are being provided with additional financial support as part of the government’s plan for the next phase of its response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Prime Minister announced today (31 October).

Throughout the crisis the government’s priority has been to protect lives and livelihoods. Today the Prime Minister said the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) - also known as the Furlough scheme - will remain open until December, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Under the extended scheme, the cost for employers of retaining workers will be reduced compared to the current scheme, which ends today. This means the extended furlough scheme is more generous for employers than it was in October.

In addition, business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Also, £1.1bn is being given to Local Authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly.

To give homeowners peace of mind too, mortgage holidays will also no longer end today.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

Over the past eight months of this crisis we have helped millions of people to continue to provide for their families. But now - along with many other countries around the world - we face a tough winter ahead.

I have always said that we will do whatever it takes as the situation evolves. Now, as restrictions get tougher, we are taking steps to provide further financial support to protect jobs and businesses. These changes will provide a vital safety net for people across the UK.

Job Retention Scheme

Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit, are eligible for the extended Job Retention Scheme, which will continue for a further month.

Businesses will have flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis or furlough them full-time, and will only be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions which, for the average claim, accounts for just 5% of total employment costs.

The Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1st November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends.

Additional guidance will be set out shortly.

Mortgage Holidays

Mortgage payment holidays will no longer end today. Borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus and have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday will be entitled to a six month holiday, and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file.

The FCA will announce further information on Monday.

Business Grants

Businesses required to close in England due to local or national restrictions will be eligible for the following:

  • For properties with a rateable value of £15k or under, grants to be £1,334 per month, or £667 per two weeks;
  • For properties with a rateable value of between £15k-£51k grants to be £2,000 per month, or £1,000 per two weeks;
  • For properties with a rateable value of £51k or over grants to be £3,000 per month, or £1,500 per two weeks.

Today’s announcements are only part of the government’s world-leading economic response to coronavirus – the largest package of emergency support in post-war history – to protect, create and support jobs.

The furlough scheme protected over nine million jobs across the UK, and self-employed people have received over £13 billion in support. This is in addition to billions of pounds in tax deferrals and grants for businesses.

Further information

GRANTS

  • Business grant policy is fully devolved. Devolved Administrations will receive Barnett consequentials which they could use to establish similar schemes.

JOB RETENTION SCHEME

  • This extended Job Retention Scheme will operate as the previous scheme did, with businesses being paid upfront to cover wages costs. There will be a short period when we need to change the legal terms of the scheme and update the system and businesses will be paid in arrears for that period.
  • The CJRS is being extended until December. The level of the grant will mirror levels available under the CJRS in August, so the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and pension contributions only for the hours the employee does not work.
  • As under the current CJRS, flexible furloughing will be allowed in addition to full-time furloughing.
  • Further details, including how to claim this extended support through an updated claims service, will be provided shortly.
  • The Job Support Scheme will be introduced following the end of the CJRS.

Who is eligible?

Employers

  • All employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant. Neither the employer nor the employee needs to have previously used the CJRS.
  • The government expects that publicly funded organisations will not use the scheme, as has already been the case for CJRS, but partially publicly funded organisations may be eligible where their private revenues have been disrupted. All other eligibility requirements apply to these employers.

Employees

  • To be eligible to be claimed for under this extension, employees must be on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 30th October 2020. This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment for that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 30th October 2020.
    *As under the current CJRS rules:
  • Employees can be on any type of contract. Employers will be able to agree any working arrangements with employees.
  • Employers can claim the grant for the hours their employees are not working, calculated by reference to their usual hours worked in a claim period. Such calculations will broadly follow the same methodology as currently under the CJRS.
  • When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours, employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of 7 consecutive calendar days.
  • Employers will need to report hours worked and the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period.
  • For worked hours, employees will be paid by their employer subject to their employment contract and employers will be responsible for paying the tax and NICs due on those amounts.

What support is being provided and employer costs:

  • For hours not worked by the employee, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. The grant must be paid to the employee in full.
  • Employers will pay employer NICs and pension contributions, and should continue to pay the employee for hours worked in the normal way.
  • As with the current CJRS, employers are still able to choose to top up employee wages above the scheme grant at their own expense if they wish.
  • The Government will confirm shortly when claims can first be made in respect of employee wage costs during November, but there will be no gap in eligibility for support between the previously announced end-date of CJRS and this extension.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/furlough-scheme-extended-and-further-economic-support-announced


02/11/2020

Lockdown Take 2 – Employment Implications

On Saturday evening, Boris Johnson announced that as from Thursday 5th November 2020 there would be a second national lockdown for a four-week period, which will have a significant impact on businesses around the country. 

Full details of the regulations are expected to be published before MPs vote on the measure in the House of Commons on Wednesday, but the proposals which impact businesses and employment are as follows:

  • People will be told to stay at home, so all those who can work from home should work from home;
  • Work which cannot be done from home, can continue;
  • Construction & manufacturing workplaces can remain open;
  • All schools; nurseries and universities will remain open;
  • All non-essential retail will close but can remain open for click and collect and delivery;
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants will have to close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery (excluding alcohol);
  • Indoor & outdoor leisure facilities and entertainment venues will have to close – gyms, swimming pools, beauty salons, hairdressers, bowling alleys, cinemas etc;
  • Weddings & Civil Partnerships will not be able to take place and places of worships will close (except for funerals – which will be limited to 30 people);
  • Avoid all non-essential travel by private or public transport;
  • Overnight stays outside of your household or support bubble are prohibited;
  • Clinically vulnerable people are asked to be ‘exceptionally careful’ but will not be asked to resume shielding.

Extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The government has acknowledged that a second lockdown will have a significant impact on businesses around the country and so has announced an extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The scheme will be extended until December.

The extended scheme will ensure that employees receive 80% of their salary up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month. The government will cover all of this and the only obligation from the employer is to cover all employer NI and pension contributions. 

Flexible furloughing will continue to be allowed, as per the current scheme.

Who is eligible?

Under the extended scheme, there is no obligation to have used the scheme previously. 

All employers with a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes can claim the grant. All other employer ‘rules’ apply as before. 

For employees to be eligible they must be on an employer’s PAYE payroll by 23:59 on 30th October 2020 and an RTI must have been submitted to HMRC on or before 30th October. All other employee ‘rules’ apply as before.

How to Claim?

Details on how to claim this extended support via an updated claims service, is not yet available. The government have promised that details will be provided shortly.

Job Support Scheme

This scheme was due to start on 1st November 2020 but will now be introduced following the end of the CJRS in December.

Other Implications

We appreciate that these are extremely uncertain times for everyone, whether your business if forced to close of not. 

The impact of a second lockdown may have a significant impact on your teams’ mental health and well-being – so now, more than ever, it is crucial to have a plan in place and to keep in touch with them.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


23/10/2020

Coronavirus COVID-19: Job Support Scheme – REVISED

Yesterday, the Chancellor announced significant changes to the Job Support Scheme (JSS), which will have a positive effect on many businesses affected by the pandemic.

Old Scheme

As a reminder, the old scheme required employees to work a minimum of a third of their normal working hours, which the employer would pay as normal and then any hours not worked would be subsidised by the government; the employer and the employee in equal parts (one third each). The employer would be responsible for paying all pension and NI contributions associated with all paid hours.

So, as a minimum, if the employee worked 33%, then there would be a 67% short fall in normal wages. Of this 67%, the shortfall would have been shared: the government 22%; the employer 22% and the employee would have been unpaid by 23%. Meaning that the employee would have received a minimum of 77% of normal pay and that you as an employer would have been responsible for paying 55% of normal hours, plus the NI and pension contributions for the 77% of hours.

New Scheme

The new scheme requires employees to work a minimum of 20% of their normal working hours, which the employer will pay as normal. For the remaining 80% of unworked hours, the employer will be obliged to contribute 5% (4% of total normal hours); the government 62% (49.6% of total normal hours) and the employee will be unpaid for 33% (26.3% of total normal hours). This means that the employee receives a minimum of 73.6% of normal pay under the scheme.

jss-chart.jpg

The government contribution is capped at £1,541.75 (gross) per month.

The scheme is available to all regions, not just those in higher COVID alert areas. For those businesses instructed to close by law, they are still able to claim 67% of wages without the requirement for employer contribution.

All other criteria associated with the original scheme remains the same, including that all claims will be paid in arrears, so it’s worth considering this in terms of cash flow.

Cost Illustrations

We have put together some illustrations of what the cost implications would be to you as an employer when using the scheme, and without. So that you can make an informed decision that is best for your business.

As a reminder, the scheme supports short-time working. 

Costs when NOT using the Job Support Scheme

Costs

100% hours worked

50% hours worked

20% hours worked

Gross Pay

£2000.00

£1000.00

£400.00

Employer Pension Contribution

£60.00

£30.00

£12.00

Employer NI Contribution

£174.98

£36.98

£0.00

Total Cost

£2234.98

£1066.98

£412.00

Costs when using the Job Support Scheme – based on 20% of hours worked

Gross Pay for 20% of hours worked

£400.00

Employer Pension Contribution for 20% of hours worked

£12.00

Employer NI Contribution for 20% of hours worked

£0.00

TOTAL NORMAL COST FOR 20% OF HOURS WORKED

£412.00

The remaining unworked 80% of normal hours is split between the Employer (4%); JSS (49.6%) and Employee (26.3%)

Employer Contribution – 4%

£80.00

Additional Employer NI

(based on 49.6% JSS & 4% Employer Contribution)

£102.12

Additional Employer Pension Contribution

(based on 49.6% JSS & 4% Employer Contribution)

£32.16

TOTAL ADDITIONAL COSTS

£214.28

TOTAL COST TO EMPLOYER

£626.28

From this, you can see that it costs the employer £214.28 (52%) more to use the scheme in this scenario than not to. 

Costs when using the Job Support Scheme – based on 50% of hours worked

Gross Pay for 50% of hours worked

£1000.00

Employer Pension Contribution for 50% of hours worked

£30.00

Employer NI Contribution for 50% of hours worked

£36.98

TOTAL NORMAL COST FOR 50% OF HOURS WORKED

£1066.98

The remaining unworked 50% of normal hours is split between the Employer (2.5%); JSS (31%) and Employee (16.5%)

Employer Contribution – 2.5%

£50.00

Additional Employer NI

(based on 31% JSS & 2.5% Employer Contribution)

£101.71

Additional Employer Pension Contribution

(based on 31% JSS & 2.5% Employer Contribution)

£22.11

TOTAL ADDITIONAL COSTS

£173.82

TOTAL COST TO EMPLOYER

£1240.80

From this, you can see that it costs the employer £173.82 (16.29%) more to use the scheme in this scenario than not to. But the more hours that are worked, the more cost effective it is for the employer.

In both scenarios the costs are higher than if you simply placed the employee on short-time working and paid them only for the hours worked. But it is a significantly enhanced package than that offered previously.

*These figures are an illustration based on the information we have available of the scheme at this present time. They may be subject to change as more information becomes available.

How Hallidays can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact your normal Hallidays contact on 0161 476 8276 or via email. We’d be more than happy to help.


13/10/2020

Coronavirus: New 3-Tier Alert System & Extension to Job Support Scheme

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced the introduction of a 3-tier alert system in England for local restrictions, in a bid to avoid another national lockdown.

The 3 tiers are as follows:

LEVEL

RESTRICTIONS

MEDIUM

Rule of 6 indoors & outdoors.

Pubs & restaurants to close at 10pm.

HIGH

No household mixing indoors.

Rule of 6 outdoors – including private gardens.

VERY HIGH

No household mixing indoors or outdoors.

Pubs/bars not able to operate as a restaurant will be forced to close.

Avoid travelling in and out of the area – including overnight stays elsewhere.

Each local authority will decide whether to close other businesses like gyms; casinos; leisure centres and other businesses.

The majority of England is at the ‘medium’ alert level at the moment. Those districts that were already operating under local restrictions, were automatically placed into the ‘high’ alert category (plus a couple of others identified as a high risk during the process). The only borough to be considered ‘very high’ at the moment is Liverpool. However, it is likely that if the numbers don’t improve that others will follow suit.

Boris Johnson stressed that there was a commitment to keep all retail outlets, schools and universities open.

For those businesses forced to close as a result of being in the ‘very high’ alert category, the government has made the following financial support available:

  • Coronavirus Job Support Scheme (until 31st October)
  • Job Support Scheme (after 1st November), offering 67% of wages to those unable to work.
  • Local Restrictions Support Grant scheme increased to up to £3,000 per month and can claim after 2 weeks rather than 3.
  • £1 billion investment in local track and trace and enforcement.

EXTENSION TO JOB SUPPORT SCHEME

On Friday 9th October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an extension to the Job Support Scheme which would support businesses that were forced to close by law as a result of further local restrictions.

The scheme has been extended to cover 67% of wage costs up to a maximum of £2,100 (gross) per month for each employee that is unable to work as a result of local restrictions. There is no requirement for the employer to contribute to wages, but they will be responsible for paying the NI and pension contributions. Each employee must be unable to work for a minimum of 7 days.

As soon as the area is released from local ‘high alert’ restrictions and can technically open again, then this additional support will be withdrawn. Businesses will then be able to use the original Job Support Scheme for help.

As per the Job Support Scheme, this additional support will be available from 1st November for a period of 6 months.

Please see our mailer from 25th September which clearly describes the detail of the original scheme.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


25/09/2020

Coronavirus Job Support Scheme

Yesterday afternoon, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the introduction of the ‘Job Support Scheme’ which will commence on 1st November 2020 for a period of 6 months. The scheme is part of a wider ‘Winter Economic Plan’ and is designed to protect viable jobs during the winter months when trade may be quieter due to COVID-19.

What is the scheme?

The scheme supports short-time working. Employees are required to work a minimum of a third of their normal working hours, which the employer will pay as normal and then any hours not worked will be subsidised by the government; the employer and the employee in equal parts (one third each).

So, as a minimum, if the employee works 33%, then there is a 66% short fall in normal wages. Of this 66%, the shortfall is shared: the government will pay 22%; the employer 22% and the employee 22%. This means that the employee will receive a minimum of 77% of normal pay.

An example is as follows:

Liz works 39 hours per week and receives £450 per week. She works 33% of the time = 13 hours per week. For the remaining 66% of the time (26 hours), she doesn’t work. She will receive:

  • 33% - 13 hours worked – Employer pays £150.
  • 66% - 26 hours not worked – unpaid hours equating to £300:

o 22% Employer contribution = £100.

o 22% claimed under government scheme = £100.

o 22% unpaid to the Employee = £100.

The government contribution is capped at £697.92 a month. The employer is responsible for paying all NI and pension contributions.

Can the employee work more hours?

Yes, the employee can work any number of hours over the 33% minimum. There is no limit to the maximum number of hours worked. It is only that all worked hours must be paid by the employer, and it is only the unpaid hours that are divided and subsidised as above.

Another example would be:

If Liz works 70% of her normal working hours, then there would be a shortfall of 30%. Her employer would be obliged to pay her for the 70% worked, and then the 30% would be divided by the 3 parties:

  • 10% claimed under government scheme
  • 10% Employer contribution
  • 10% unpaid to the employee

This would mean that Liz receives 90% of her normal pay in this scenario, and the employer is responsible for paying a total of 80% of this.

The minimum percentage of hours worked will remain to be 33% for the first 3 months but will then be reviewed and may be increased.

Employees will be able to cycle on and off the scheme and do not have to be working the same pattern each month. The only stipulation is that each short-time working arrangement must cover a minimum of 7 days.

Employers will not be able to top up their employees’ wages above the two-thirds contribution to hours not worked at their own expense.

The calculation of “usual” wages will be similar to that for the CJRS and full details will be provided shortly. For employees who have been on furlough it will be based on their underlying usual pay / hours and not the amount paid whilst on furlough.

When does the scheme start?

The scheme starts on 1st November 2020 for a period of 6 months, until 30th April 2020. 

Are all Company’s eligible?

All small and medium sized business will be eligible assuming they have a UK bank account and UK PAYE schemes. Large businesses will have to meet a financial assessment test to demonstrate that their turnover has been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

Are all employees eligible?

Employees must be on the employers PAYE payroll on or before 23rd September 2020. This means that an RTI must have been submitted to HMRC on or before this date.

Is the scheme only for those who have previously utilised the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

No, this is a completely separate scheme.

Will I still be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus?

Yes, assuming you are eligible for the Job Retention Bonus scheme, you will be able to claim for both.

How will claims be made?

An online portal via the Gov.uk website will be available from December 2020. The claims will be made in arrears, which means that the employer will be responsible for paying all monies owed to the employee upfront.

Only one claim can be made in respect of any given pay period – after payment to the employee has been made and that payment has been reported to HMRC via an RTI return.

Grants can only be used as reimbursement for wage costs actually incurred.

Do I need to get agreement from my employees to do this?

As per the furlough scheme, if your employees have a short-time working clause within their contract of employment, then you do not need their express agreement to be placed on the scheme.

However, if you do not, then you will need to agree these short-time working proposals with your employees and get them to sign a variation to contract agreement, which explicitly outlines the scheme.

Do I still have the option of redundancy?

Yes, however, you would need to time this right. Under the scheme it specifically states that employees cannot be made redundant or put on notice of redundancy during the period within which their employer is claiming the grant for that employee.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


24/09/2020

Winter Economy Plan

Here are the headlines from the Chancellors statement in Parliament today where a series of measures to help jobs and businesses were announced.

NEW JOB SUPPORT SCHEME ANNOUNCED

Today Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new job scheme starting 1 November 2020 to replace the current Job retention (“furlough”) scheme which ends 31 October 2020.

All small and medium-sized businesses are eligible, larger businesses must show their turnover has fallen during the pandemic. Employers can use the new scheme even if they have not previously used the furlough scheme. 

The new Government scheme will last for six months to 30 April 2021 and to be eligible employees will need to be working a minimum of 33% of their hours. For the remaining hours not worked the Government and employer will pay one third. of wages each. This means:

Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work - but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary.

Employees who can only go back to work on shorter time will still be paid two thirds of the hours for those hours they can’t work.

The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.

By way of an example an employee working 33% of their hours will receive at least 77% of their pay, 22% paid by the Government and 55% paid by their employer (the “worked” 33% plus 22%).

SELF-EMPLOYED INCOME SUPPORT SCHEME

The existing self-employed grant (SEISS) will also be extended on the same basis as the job support scheme.

An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.

An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April.

VAT CUT FOR HOSPITALITY SECTOR CONTINUES

The reduction in VAT to 5% for the hospitality and tourism sector will be extended until 31 March 2021.

DEFERRAL OF VAT BILLS

Up to half a million businesses who deferred their VAT bills will be given more breathing space through the New Payment Scheme, which gives them the option to pay back in smaller instalments. Rather than paying a lump sum in full at the end March next year, they will be able to make 11 smaller interest-free payments during the 2021-22 financial year.

SELF-ASSESSMENT TAXPAYERS – TIME TO PAY EXTENSION

Approximately 11 million self-assessment taxpayers will be able to benefit from a separate additional 12-month extension from HMRC on the “Time to Pay” self-service facility, meaning payments deferred from July 2020, and those due in January 2021, will now not need to be paid until January 2022.

BOUNCE BACK LOANS - FLEXIBILITY GIVEN TO PAY BACK AMOUNTS BORROWED

More than a million businesses who took out a Bounce Back Loan will get more repayment time through a new Pay as You Grow flexible repayment system.

This includes extending the length of the loan from six years to ten, which will cut monthly repayments by nearly half. Interest-only periods of up to six months and payment holidays will also be available to businesses.

The Government also intends to give Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme lenders the ability to extend the length of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years if it will help businesses to repay the loan.

The chancellor also announced an extension in applications for the government’s coronavirus loan schemes until the end of November.

Further guidance will be issued in due course.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-outlines-winter-economy-plan


source: https://www.the2020group.com/2020-innovation-covid-19-resources/

Chancellor extends a lifeline to businesses

CEO and Co-founder of Capitalise, Paul Surtees, shares his thoughts on the extension of the CBILS application deadline

Capitalise experienced a surge in funding enquiries on the platform last week, in particular for CBILS facilities. As the summer holidays ended, more businesses had taken steps to assess their longer term financing requirements, but time was rapidly running out for them before the deadline of 30th September. 

Therefore, we welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that he will extend the Government backed loan schemes to 30th November 2020 for businesses to make their applications to lenders.

In addition, the CBILS and Bounce back loans can now be extended to a 10 year repayment term and if businesses are struggling to repay their bounce back loans, they can opt for interest only repayments or, in critical situations, suspend all repayments for up to six months.

These loans already provided very attractive terms and this move has allowed cashflow within businesses to be supported even more. The Chancellor did state that a successor guarantee loan programme was being developed for applications from 1st January, but we believe these terms are unlikely to be repeated for most businesses in the open market, once the schemes end.

Refined underwriting process for CBILS

More lenders have begun to accept CBILS applications over the past few months and their increased experience has allowed them to refine their underwriting processes. This larger marketplace provides us with a greater opportunity to use our platform to connect businesses to the most appropriate lenders and we are now regularly seeing accountants receive offers for their clients within days.

As the market has become more efficient and businesses have become more confident to assess their future requirements, it would have been short-sighted to close the scheme so soon. 

“ Nearly 1.2million SMEs have taken a bounce back loan with an average facility size of £29,000, less than the average directors salary. ”

Over the next twelve months, many businesses will have significant outgoings, such as fulfilling obligations for tax and VAT deferrals, starting repayments for new loans and possibly recommencing their business rates from April. Nearly 1.2million SMEs have taken a bounce back loan with an average facility size of £29,000, less than the average directors salary. Those businesses who had already received a smaller bounce back loan may wish to consider converting that into a larger CBILS facility, whilst the scheme still remains open to build the necessary capital buffer required.

I would encourage all accountants to take this extra opportunity to speak to all their clients again and to ensure that they are adequately capitalised for the months ahead. Times are still very uncertain and many businesses will currently be considering whether their trade is likely to be affected if further lockdowns are instigated.

I look forward to assisting more accountants over the coming weeks as we take this opportunity and work to ensure they are able to support their clients’ to secure their future.

Source: Paul Surtees - https://capitalise.com/insights/chancellor-extends-a-lifeline-to-businesses


23/09/2020

Coronavirus COVID-19: PM Announcement – Further Restrictions

Last night, Boris Johnson announced 6 additional restrictions that will have an impact on many businesses. There certainly isn’t the message to ‘stay home’ as there has previously been, but he has urged us to be extra cautious and to carry out our ‘civic duty’. The PM stressed that he wanted to keep businesses open, but in a ‘COVID compliant way’.

Schools, colleges and universities will remain open and childcare will be uninterrupted. Shielding will not be reintroduced.

The 6 additional restrictions are:

If you can work from home, you should work from home

‘Back to work’ has been replaced by ‘work from home if you can’. This means that any roles that can be completed remotely should return to being done so. However, any roles that cannot be done from home will continue to be able to operate on company premises, so long as they adhere to the ‘COVID-secure’ guidelines. 

Hospitality venues, pubs, bars & restaurants to shut at 10pm and operate table service only

From Thursday this will be the case. The same applies for takeaways but they will be able to continue with deliveries after this time.

Requirement to wear face coverings extended

Now, all staff in retail; all users of taxi’s and private hire vehicles; and staff and customers in indoor hospitality (except when seated at a table to eat or drink) will be expected to wear a face covering at all times.

Retail, leisure & tourism sector – legal obligation to follow COVID-secure guidelines

These sectors have been added to the list of having a legal obligation to comply. Failure to comply could now result in fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.

The planned re-opening of conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events delayed

All of these events were due to start up from 1st October, however, this will now be delayed. It is not clear exactly how long for. 

Wedding ceremonies reduced to 15 people

From Monday, wedding ceremonies and receptions will reduce from 30 to 15 people in attendance. Funerals remain unchanged at 30 people.

The PM has suggested that these changes are anticipated to be in place for the next 6 months unless something drastic happens to change that.

As furlough comes to an end on 31st October 2020, and with no plans to extend at the moment, these most recent restrictions will be a worry to a lot of businesses.

So, what’s next after furlough? What are your options?

Please see our separate mailer which covers these topics.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

Coronavirus COVID-19: Life After Furlough…

As it stands, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or ‘furlough’ comes to an end on 31st October 2020. So, with just over 5 weeks to go, you may be thinking about your options going forward.

Reminder of CJRS claim for October

From 1st October, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 60%. 

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 60% of salary or a maximum of £1,875 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 20% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

All claims must be submitted by 30th November 2020. This includes all adjustments to previous claims.

Job Retention Bonus

Businesses will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every previously furloughed employee that is still employed as of 31st January 2021. This bonus will be taxable.

To be able to claim, employees must have earnt at least £520 per month, from November to January, or £1,560 average earnings across 3 months. For those with average earnings, the employee must have had some earnings in each of the 3 months – November, December and January. These earnings must have been paid and reported to HMRC via RTI.

All previously furloughed workers are eligible, so if they met the criteria previously, you will be able to claim. This includes: fixed term contracts; office holders; company directors; agency workers and umbrella companies.

Those employees who returned from statutory parental leave or being mobilised as a military reservist after 10th June 2020 and were eligible to be placed on furlough and claimed for via the CJRS, will also qualify for the bonus, so long as they meet all the other criteria.

You cannot claim for anyone who is within their notice period.

Claims will be submitted via GOV.UK from February 2021. We believe this will be an online portal, much like the CJRS one. The government have promised to release more information on this by 30th September 2020.

Kickstart Scheme

You could choose to take advantage of the governments Kickstart Scheme. This is where the government contributes 25 hours per week in exchange for you offering anyone between the age of 16 and 24, who is out-of-work and claiming Universal Credit, a six-month work placement.

The Jobcentre will identify people at risk of long-term unemployment to refer to the scheme, and Jobcentre work coaches will support candidates before and after their placement.

The government aims to have the first placements on offer from November. To register your interest, you can visit www.gov.uk/kickstart. Employers interested in offering fewer than 30 Kickstart roles should apply through a representative organisation. This includes Local Authorities, Chamber of Commerce and Trade Bodies.

The scheme will run until at least December 2021 and covers the whole of the UK.

Lay-off or Short-time Working

A temporary reduction in working hours and wages, may be a consideration after furlough has ended. You may not be in the financial position to bring people back full time, or the business just isn’t there yet, so you don’t need them to work.

If your contracts of employment contain these clauses then you can impose either lay-off or short-time working, without agreement from your employees. 

With lay-off, employees can be laid off for up to 4 consecutive weeks (or 6 weeks, of which no more than 3 are consecutive) in a 13-week continuous period and if they have over 1 months’ service they would qualify for statutory guaranteed lay-off pay of 5 days normal pay (pro rata for part-time employees). One thing to be mindful of, is that anyone with over 2 years’ service might be able to claim for a redundancy payment if they have been laid off for more than this.

Short-time working refers to a reduction in working hours which equates to less than half of their normal working hours and pay.

If you do not have these clauses within your contract, then to impose it you would be at risk of a claim for constructive dismissal and/or unlawful deductions from wages. 

However, what you could consider is discussing and agreeing a period of lay-off or short-time working with your employees. Normally, if the situation is explained clearly enough, they know that it is temporary and as an alternative to redundancies, then they are agreeable. In this scenario, it would be advisable to get signed consent to such an agreement and place it on their personal file.

Restructure

It may be that as a result of a decrease in business, or the change in the way you do business, that you need to consider restructuring your organisation. It may be that since employees have been on furlough you have found new, more efficient ways of doing things and so the role has changed or isn’t there anymore.

It’s so important to look at what job roles you have, compared to what you need going forward and make the necessary changes.

Redundancy

As a result, you may need to consider making some redundancies.

In this scenario it is important to follow a fair and proper procedure. Despite the pandemic, there are no allowances within legislation which allow you to cut corners and all employment law should be adhered to as normal.

If you are making less than 20 roles redundant, then there is no set consultation period, it simply must be ‘reasonable’ to allow for meaningful consultation. If you are making 1 role redundant, but more than 1 person is in that role, then you would need to consider pooling these employees together in the process.

It is a complex area and can be expensive to get wrong. So, it is recommended that you get some expert advice if you are thinking of making any redundancies.

The New ‘Normal’

As it looks like the current restrictions are going to last at least another 6 months, you are probably considering how best to do business during this time and what the ‘new normal’ will look like. 

Returning to Business Premises:

You will probably already have this in place, but if you are bringing people back to the business premises, you will need to make sure that you are ‘COVID secure’. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to £10,000 and businesses being closed.

It is important to complete a risk assessment to ensure that you are doing all that you can to keep your employees safe – social distancing; hand wash areas; protection screens; one-way systems etc… There are a number of sector specific guideline documents on the government website to help you. Your H&S advisor will also be able to help.

Working from Home:

With the announcement yesterday that those that can work from home, should work from home, it looks like home working is here to stay – at least for the next 6 months.

Many businesses have found that working from home has been a welcomed shift in culture and are embracing it. Businesses are reporting much higher productivity rates; lower costs and increased employee happiness. Employees like the increased flexibility and autonomy. It’s been reported by Recruitment Agencies that candidates are no longer looking for a 5 day per week, 9am – 5pm job – they want, and are insisting on, increased flexibility in a new role.

Challenges:

The culture of remote working is not without its challenges. Managers and Business Owners are concerned with managing results remotely; keeping people engaged and keeping an eye on employee wellbeing and metal health. All these areas are certainly a concern, but there are a few things you can do to minimise the impact.

How do you manage results with more people working remotely?

Some Managers and Business Owners are really concerned with how you manage performance remotely. They are worried that their employees are not spending all their working day working as they should be. BUT – if they’re getting the job done and getting the results – does it really matter? There are a few things that can help ensure that the results are met:

  • Clear individual KPIs (linked to business KPIs).
  • Regular reviews and conversations.
  • Clear job descriptions.
  • Development plans.
  • Having difficult conversations quickly – nip any negative behaviour in the bud – more likely to fester when WFH.

How do you keep people engaged?

Often, it’s the social side of things that people miss – the chitchat; the team lunches and nights out. Other than being in regular contact, here are some things you can do to keep employees motivated, engaged and feeling part of the team whilst working from home:

  • Virtual wine and cheese tasting evenings.
  • Zoom quizzes.
  • Fancy dress competitions.
  • Smaller teams of up to 6, meeting up for lunch or in the pub for a drink.
  • Sending out small gifts to say thank you for all the effort and to show that they haven’t been forgotten about.

Engagement is about the team sharing a common purpose and working towards that goal. It takes regular constant communication and commitment. The most important things are Trust and Empowerment.

How do you keep an eye on employee wellbeing and their mental health?

  • Regular 1 to 1 meetings are essential.
  • Employee Survey to understand how your employees are feeling.
  • Individual DISC report on remote working to understand how they might adapt to working from home and what their individual challenges might be accordingly to their behavioural preferences.

There is a lot to think about here and we are certainly in unprecedented, unpredictable times. On Thursday 8th October we are holding a webinar to discuss these topics in more detail. We will be circulating invites next week, so if you would like to attend, please let us know.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


15/09/2020

Talented transport tech start-ups to receive funding boost of over £1 million

Latest round of T-TRIG funding is open to entrepreneurs and innovators looking to create a better transport system.

  • creative start-ups to be given a share of £1 million to see ideas brought to life
  • projects that support COVID-19 recovery and decarbonisation to benefit
  • previous winners of funding include firm who developed new satellite antenna to provide reliable high-speed broadband to rail journeys

Innovative transport start-ups with a focus on decarbonisation or COVID-19 recovery can bid for a share of over £1 million (£1,010,000) in Department for Transport funding from today (14 September 2020).

Transport-Technology Research and Innovation Grants (T-TRIG), which is now in its 11th round of funding, is open to entrepreneurs and innovators pioneering new ways of creating a better transport system. Over 60% of grants so far have been awarded to SMEs and 30% to universities.

T-TRIG brings together talented start-ups and policymakers at the earliest stages of innovation and by issuing targeted investments of up to £30,000 for each project, the fund aims to help budding entrepreneurs and academics propel their ideas to market quicker.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said:

“As we continue to follow our greenprint for a transport recovery from COVID-19, it is imperative we work with startups at the cutting edge of technology to help us build back more sustainably and today’s competition launch will do exactly that.

“That’s why supporting innovation is a priority for this government, as we start to travel again safely while also seeking to solve the complex challenge of decarbonising transport.”

The government has provided £5.4 million through T-TRIG over the past 5 years to more than 170 technology and innovation projects with successful winners including Wayfindr and Infinect. Wayfindr was able to develop a system that helps blind and partially sighted people navigate towns and cities using Bluetooth-enabled beacons and smartphones. Infinect, which received T-TRIG funding in 2017, has developed a new satellite antenna to provide reliable high-speed broadband to rail journeys, significantly improving the passenger experience.

Investment from this fund has often been a precursor to funding from private investors and over £25 million in additional investment, largely from the private sector, has been secured off the back of successful projects awarded funding since the scheme began.

George Goussetis, Principle Investigator for Infinect, said:

In addition to providing the resource, T-TRIG gave us the credibility and confidence to focus our efforts on addressing the needs of the railway sector using satellite technology. This in turn has led to further funding successes that are supporting technological and commercial developments and we are presently quite excited to be part of an ecosystem that looks to solve tomorrow’s problems with tomorrow’s technology.

T-TRIG 2020 was announced during a roundtable held by Transport Minister Rachel Maclean where she heard about the challenges small businesses face today in commercialising new technology, products and services. The SMEs involved also met with senior government representatives and policy makers, who are actively invested in helping the UK economy thrive by supporting our community.

The Minister also announced at the roundtable a separate £500,000 competition to fund the development of products or services that would improve the ability for disabled people to use the transport network. Bids for the Accessibility-Technology Research Innovation Grant (A-TRIG) will be open until the end of November.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/talented-transport-tech-start-ups-to-receive-funding-boost-of-over-1-million?utm_source=5ac21294-fc0b-47a0-8f92-c1bd64dfb48d&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily


11/09/2020

How does Kickstart work?

Selected out-of-work young people will be offered six-month work placements, for at least 25 hours a week, to help them gain experience, skills and confidence. The scheme is designed to be a stepping stone to further employment.

Who will it help?

Anyone between the age of 16 and 24 who is out-of-work and claiming Universal Credit may be eligible. Government figures suggest that there are already more than half a million people who fall into this category.

Jobcentre staff will identify people at risk of long-term unemployment to refer to the scheme, and Jobcentre work coaches will support candidates before and after their placement.

The government aims to have the first placements on offer from November.

What funding is available?

The government will fund each Kickstart job - paying 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for a 25-hour a week.

Employers can top up pay out of their own pockets or extend the hours if they wish.

In addition, the government is offering employers £1,500 to set up support and training for those taking part, or other set-up costs such as buying uniforms.

What do businesses need to do?

From 2nd September larger employers can visit www.gov.uk/kickstart to register their interest. Employers interested in offering fewer than 30 Kickstart roles should apply through a representative organisation. This includes Local Authorities, Chamber of Commerce and Trade Bodies.

The scheme will run until at least December 2021 and covers the whole of the UK.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) / Self-Isolation and Furlough

When am I required to pay SSP to my employees due to coronavirus?

  • If an employee or someone they live with has symptoms or has had a positive test
  • If an employee has been notified by the NHS that they have been in contact with someone who has received a positive test
  • If someone in an employees ‘support bubble’ has symptoms or a positive test
  • If an employee is required to isolate before going into hospital for treatment (this is based on GP advice)
  • Any employees shielding

If I have to close my business due to an employee having a positive test for coronavirus, but my employees can’t work from home, can they be furloughed, or do I have to pay SSP?

If you are unable to maintain the workforce because your operations have been affected by coronavirus, you can furlough employees. This is subject to them having previously been furloughed prior to 30 June for a period of 3 consecutive weeks, and a claim for them being made by 31 July. 

If an employee’s child has to be at home and not at school, due to the school having a positive coronavirus test, is the employee entitled to be furloughed?

If your employee is unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus, including employees that need to look after children, then they can be furloughed as long as you previously placed the employee on furlough before 30 June and submitted a claim for them by 31 July.

If an employee has to isolate after being in contact with someone who has tested positive, and they cant work from home, can they be furloughed?

If the work is still there and the business has not been required to close as a result of the positive test, then you cannot furlough them. Instead, they should be placed on sick leave. Short term illness/self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee.

If your employee is on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of coronavirus, they may be eligible for SSP. The job retention scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness.

You can claim back up to 2 weeks of SSP if you have already paid your employee’s sick pay, and you are claiming for an employee who is eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus.

Does an employee have to have a negative coronavirus test result, after a positive test before returning to work?

If an employee has had a test and the test result is negative, they do not need to self-isolate, and can return to work, so long as:

  • everyone they live with who has symptoms tests negative
  • everyone in their support bubble who has symptoms tests negative
  • they were not told to self-isolate for 14 days by NHS Test and Trace
  • they feel well

If an employee tests positive, they must self-isolate immediately.

  • If they had a test because they had symptoms, they need to keep self-isolating for at least 10 days from when the symptoms started
  • If they had a test but have not had symptoms, they must self-isolate for 10 days from when they had the test.

Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must self-isolate for 14 days from when you start self-isolating.

An employee has just returned to the UK and is required to self-isolate for 14 days. What do I pay them?

Employees are not entitled to SSP if they're self-isolating after returning to the UK and cannot work from home. But you could choose to pay them the equivalent of SSP, or a higher rate of sick pay if you wanted to.

If an employee cannot do their job from home, they may need to take extra annual leave to cover the 14 days of self-isolation. If they don’t have enough annual leave, they may need to take a period of unpaid leave.

If an employee has a coronavirus test after returning to the UK and it is negative, can they return to work and not self-isolate for 14 days?

Currently tests are not being done upon arrival in the UK, and therefore government advice is to self-isolate for 14 days.

If employees develop any symptoms within the 14 days after the day they arrive in the UK, they can then apply for a test. They should continue to self-isolate until the result is known.

If an employee becomes sick whilst furloughed, what do I pay them?

Furloughed employees retain their statutory rights, including their right to SSP. This means that furloughed employees who become ill, due to Coronavirus or any other cause, must be paid at least SSP. Subject to eligibility this includes those self-isolating or shielding because of coronavirus. You will need to decide whether to move these employees onto SSP or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate.

If a furloughed employee who becomes sick is moved onto SSP, you can no longer claim for the furloughed salary. You will be required to pay SSP, although you may qualify for a rebate for up to 2 weeks of SSP if the sickness is related to coronavirus. 

As such, it may be more financially beneficial to keep them on furlough.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


11/08/2020

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) set to end

With the Corona Virus Business Interruption Loan Scheme set to end on 30th September, it’s extremely important that, should you wish to access funding, we begin the process as soon as possible. 

You may have thought that the scheme was simply offering ‘standard’ term loans however there are actually a number of products available under the scheme and they come with a range of benefits such as:

  • No repayments for the first 12 months 
  • All fees covered by the government 
  • No interest payable for the first 12 months
  • Maximum borrowing of 25% of turnover however multiple loans of up to £250K can be taken from different providers with no need for personal guarantees

Take a look at the questions below and, if you answer yes to any of them, please get in touch so we can explore the options available to you: 

  • Have you been declined by your bank for a CBILS loan? (We have access to over 30 CBILS accredited lenders!)
  • Have you taken a bounce back loan? (Will the amount received be enough to get you through the next 12 months?)
  • Do you have historic debt over a year old? (CBILS could provide cheaper rates and potentially no repayments for the first 12 months!)
  • Have you ever financed any of the assets on your balance sheet? (These can be refinanced under CBILS!) 
  • Do you have lengthy payment terms with some debtors? (Invoice finance is currently free for 12 months under the CBILS scheme!) 

Capitalise your funding to thrive webinar

We are running an interactive webinar to help you look at the options available to you. Book your place by emailing hello@hallidays.co.uk or call 0161 476 8276. The deadline is fast approaching so please do not hesitate to reach out should you wish to look at the options available to you.

Second grant for SEISS to be rolled out

SEISS is to be extended and a second and final grant will be available from 17th August 2020. The deadline (at the moment) for claiming is 19th October 2020.

This taxable grant will be worth 70% (down from 80% from the first grant) of average trading profits from 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19, again paid out in a single instalment and covering three months’ worth of profits. The second grant will be capped at £6,570 (down from £7,500 from the first grant). The second grant is for the period 14th July 2020 onwards (the first grant ran up to 13th July 2020).

The eligibility criteria for the second grant will be the same as for the first grant and for ease of reference are as follows:

  • Have submitted a tax return for the tax year 18/19 on or by 23rd April 2020.
  • Have traded in the tax year 19/20.
  • Are trading when apply or would be except for COVID-19.
  • Intend to continue to trade in the tax year 20/21.
  • Have lost trading/partnership trading profits due to COVID-19. Records should be kept to support this.
  • Average self-employed trading profits between £0 - £50,000.

Additionally, more than half of total income comes from self-employment.

One of the following conditions A to C must be met to be eligible for the scheme:

    1. Trading/partnership profits are between £0 - £50,000 for 18/19 and those trading profits are more than half of total taxable income for that year; or
    2. Average trading/partnership profits for the three years 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19 are between £0 - £50,000 and average trading profits for those years are more than half of total taxable average income for those same years; or
    3. If you didn’t trade in 2016-17, average profits/partnership profits for the two years 17/18 and 18/19 are between £0 - £50,000 and average trading profits for those years are more than half of total taxable average income for those same years.

From July 2020 a proposed modified extra condition for parents, including adoptive parents, who took time out of trading to care for their children within the first 12 months of the birth of the child or within 12 months of an adoption placement:

  • If trading profits dipped in 18/19 due to parenting, you will now be able to use either 17/18 or both their 16/17 and 17/18 self-assessment returns as the basis for their eligibility for the SEISS.

Claimants do not need to have claimed the first grant to claim the second grant, but will have to confirm that their business has been adversely affected on or after 14th July 2020.

To claim you will need your:

  • UTR.
  • National Insurance number.
  • Government Gateway user ID and password.
  • UK bank details (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted) including:
    • Account number.
    • Sort code.
    • Name on the account.
    • Address linked to the account.

How to Claim:

The online service is not available yet. If eligible uyou will be able to make a claim for a second and final grant from 17th August 2020. HMRC will contact businesses they believe are eligible. As with the first grant it would be prudent to undertake your own due diligence, but checking if you are adversely affected will be key, as the upturn in the economy (albeit small) could disqualify some of the first claimers from the second round.

After the Claim:

HMRC will check the claim and pay the grant into the bank account in the next 6 working days. HMRC will also send an email when the payment is on its way.

HMRC should not be contacted unless it has been more than 10 working days since the claim was made and the payment hasn’t been received in that time.

If your business recovers after the claim, eligibility will not be affected. Evidence must be kept to confirm the business was adversely affected at the time the claim was made.

If you think the Grant is too low:

HMRC will use the information on the tax returns to work out the grant amount.

If you think the grant amount is too low, you should check how much you’ll get by visiting the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme#howmuch

If after visiting this site you still think the grant amount is too low, HMRC can be asked to review the grant amount.

Record Keeping and Reporting:

You must keep a copy of all records in line with normal self-employment record keeping requirements, including the:

  • Amount claimed.
  • Grant claim reference.

You should also keep any evidence that their business has been adversely affected by coronavirus at the time the claim is made, such as:

  • Business accounts showing a reduction in turnover.
  • Confirmation of any coronavirus-related business loans received.
  • Dates the business had to close due to lockdown restrictions.
  • Dates you or team members were unable to work due to coronavirus symptoms, shielding or caring responsibilities.

Members of Partnerships:

  • Each partner in a partnership must make a claim based on their own circumstances.
  • HMRC will work out eligibility based on their share of the partnership’s trading profits.
  • If the partnership agreement requires the grant to be paid into the partnership pot, the partnership should give it back to the individual partner.

Tax and Benefit Implications:

The grants are subject to tax and NIC as self-employed income:

  • The grants are to be included in taxable profits for the 20/21 tax year only, and not for 19/20.
  • The grants are classed as self-employed income for the purposes of universal credit claims.
  • Where a grant payment is received for more than one self-employment business it must be apportioned between them on a just and reasonable basis. 
  • Where the business has ceased, the grants are to be taxed as post-cessation receipts.

VAT Implications:

HMRC have not provided any guidance as to whether the grants will be subject to VAT or count towards turnover for VAT registration limits. Normal principles are expected to apply (but by no means certain) to mean:

  • The grants would be outside the scope of VAT and no output VAT should have to be accounted for.
  • The grant income should be disregarded for VAT registration and deregistration limits.

How Hallidays can help

If you need any support with the above, please get in touch with our specialist tax team by contacting us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

Schools - Get help with technology during coronavirus

Guidance for local authorities, academy trusts and schools on devices and support available to provide remote education and access to children’s social care.

The Department for Education (DfE) is providing a range of support through its Get help with technology programme.

Get laptops and tablets for children who cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Between May and July 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) provided laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers to local authorities and academy trusts for children, families and young adults most in need.

For the 2020 to 2021 academic year, more laptops and tablets have been made available for disadvantaged children in certain year groups who are affected by disruption to face to face education at their school, or have been advised to shield because they are clinically extremely vulnerable.

This guidance provides information for schools and trusts about who is eligible and how to apply.

Manage laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers received from the DfE

The DfE provided devices to local authorities and academy trusts between May and July 2020. These are being distributed to families, children and young adults most in need, who did not have access to them through another source, such as their school.

Devices will help children and young people to access remote education. These devices will also help to provide access to social care and other services to support safety and wellbeing.

Technical guidance is available to provide staff at local authorities, academy trusts and schools with information about online safety, mobile device management, warranties, and how to contact a support desk.

Get internet access for vulnerable and disadvantaged children

Internet access supports remote education, as well as virtual contact between children, their social workers and other services.

In addition to the 4G wireless routers already provided, the DfE is running two pilot schemes for increasing vulnerable and disadvantaged children’s internet access: one giving free access to BT wifi hotspots, and another raising data allowances on mobile devices.

Apply for a grant and support to get set up with a digital education platform

Schools can apply for government-funded support through The Key for School Leaders and access one of two free-to-use digital education platforms: G Suite for Education or Office 365 Education. The Key also provides feature comparison and case studies on how schools are making the most of these platforms, to help applicants make the most appropriate choice for their school.

Get peer-to-peer support on the effective use of technology in academy trusts and schools

Organisations can use the EdTech Demonstrator Programme to contact a network of schools and colleges who are already using remote education technology resources for help and support.

Read the other guidance on remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19).

Read other guidance on social care during coronavirus (COVID-19).

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-technology-for-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Job Retention Bonus & further updates

On Friday 31st July, HMRC published further details on how the Job Retention Bonus will work. The guidance covers eligibility requirements and the process for claiming the bonus.

So, what are the main points?

Businesses will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every previously furloughed employee that is still employed as of 31st January 2021. This bonus will be taxable.

To be able to claim, employees must have earnt at least £520 per month, from November to January, or £1,560 average earnings across 3 months. For those with average earnings, the employee must have had some earnings in each of the 3 months – November, December and January. These earnings must have been paid and reported to HMRC via RTI.

All previously furloughed workers are eligible, so if they met the criteria previously, you will be able to claim. This includes: fixed term contracts; office holders; company directors; agency workers and umbrella companies.

Those employees who returned from statutory parental leave or being mobilised as a military reservist after 10th June 2020 and were eligible to be placed on furlough and claimed for via the CJRS, will also qualify for the bonus, so long as they meet all the other criteria.

You cannot claim for anyone who is within their notice period.

How can I make a claim for the bonus?

Claims will be submitted via GOV.UK from February 2021. We believe this will be an online portal, much like the CJRS one. The government have promised to release more information on this by 30th September 2020.

What should I do in the meantime?

It Is important to ensure that all your RTI records are up to date and that all CJRS claims are accurate and that records are kept. This should make the Job Retention Bonus claim process much more straight forward.

Penalties for wrong CJRS claims

HMRC have released guidance on how they will be handling the recovery of overclaimed CJRS grants and the potential penalties.

What do I do if I have overclaimed?

If you have overclaimed one month, you can rectify this the following month without having to contact HMRC directly.

However, if you do not plan to make any further claims, or it is the end of the scheme, then you need to contact HMRC directly to arrange repayment.

What are the notification periods?

The notification periods are as follows:

  • 90 days after you receive any CJRS grant you are not entitled to;
  • 90 days after the day circumstances changes so that you were no longer entitled to keep the CJRS grant (i.e. the employee claiming for has left the business);
  • 20th October 2020.

The notification period ends on the latest of whichever date applies.

What are the penalties?

Penalties will be equal to the amount of CJRS grant you were not entitled to receive, including any amounts not used to pay furloughed employee wages and associated costs.

Payment will be due within 30 days.

Redundancy Payments

Employees with more than 2 years’ service, who are made redundant, are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment based on their length of service, age and pay (up to a limit).

On 31st July 2020, it become law that furloughed employees’ statutory redundancy payments should be calculated based on 100% of their normal salary NOT 80%.

The legislation does not impact any enhanced redundancy pay.

Reminder of CJRS over next few months

August

From 1st August, the employer is responsible for paying ALL NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked. The rest of the scheme remains the same as July.

September

From 1st September, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 70%. 

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 70% of salary or a maximum of £2,187.50 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 10% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

October

From 1st October, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 60%. 

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 60% of salary or a maximum of £1,875 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 20% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


04/08/2020

Local lockdowns: guidance for education and childcare settings

What schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders, early years and other educational settings need to do if there's a local lockdown during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

An outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been identified in parts of Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and West Yorkshire. The government and relevant local authorities are acting together to control the spread of the virus. More information on the affected local areas is available on the North of England: local restrictions page.

This guidance is for all education and childcare settings in the Leicester area including:

  • all schools and colleges
  • early years and childcare settings
  • further education providers
  • higher education providers
  • local authorities

It may also be useful for:

  • parents and carers
  • students and young people

We will update this guidance as we have further information available.

DfE coronavirus helpline

Email dfe.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk

Telephone 0800 046 8687

If you have a query about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to schools and other educational establishments, and children's social care, in England contact our helpline.

Lines are open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the helpline.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-lockdowns-guidance-for-education-and-childcare-settings

Eat Out to Help Out launches – with government paying half on restaurant bills

Diners across the UK will see their restaurant bills slashed by as much as 50% as the government’s landmark Eat Out to Help Out scheme officially opens for business (Monday 3 August).

Anyone visiting a participating restaurant, café or pub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August will receive the half price discount – keeping more money in hardworking families’ pockets and giving a vital boost to the UK’s hospitality sector.

The scheme – part of the government’s Plan for Jobs that will spur the country’s economic recovery from coronavirus – applies to all food and non-alcoholic drinks, with a maximum discount per person of £10. It could save a family of four up to £40 per meal.

More than 72,000 establishments are participating, including independent eateries and family favourites such as Pizza Express, Costa Coffee and Nando’s.

There have already been over 3.3 million hits on the Eat Out to Help Out restaurant finder since it launched last week, which shows what businesses are participating in local areas, and many restaurants have since seen a boost in bookings. Apps like Opentable, Fork and Bookatable are all planning pages to support the scheme.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

Our Eat Out to Help Out scheme’s number one aim is to help protect the jobs of 1.8 million chefs, waiters and restaurateurs by boosting demand and getting customers through the door.

More than 72,000 establishments will be serving discounted meals across the country, with the government paying half the bill. The industry is a vital ingredient to our economy and it’s been hit hard by coronavirus, so enjoy summer safely by showing your favourite places your support – we’ll pay half.

The scheme will help protect the jobs of the hospitality industry’s 1.8 million employees by encouraging people to safely return to their local restaurants, cafes and pubs where social-distancing rules allow.

Around 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April, with 1.4 million workers furloughed, the highest of any sector.

Many participating restaurants offer healthy and low-calorie options, and the scheme should be enjoyed as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. No vouchers are needed, with the participating establishment deducting 50% from the bill.

People may be worried about returning to eat out. To address these concerns, businesses have prepared to become Covid-secure through, for example, protective screens, contactless payments, social distancing, one way walking systems, online bookings and reduced capacity.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is one part of the Chancellor’s £30 billion Plan for Jobs, announced last month. Other measures announced to protect, support and create jobs include cutting VAT for tourism and hospitality by 15%, a £2 billion Kickstart Scheme and an £8.8 billion investment in new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/eat-out-to-help-out-launches-today-with-government-paying-half-on-restaurant-bills

Ask HMRC to verify you had a new child which affected your eligibility for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

If you’re self-employed or a member of a partnership, and having a new child affected the trading profits or total income you reported for the tax year 2018 to 2019, use this form to ask HMRC to verify that you had a new child.

If you’re already eligible for the grant based on your 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019 Self Assessment tax returns, how we work out your grant amount will not be affected.

If you’re not already eligible you can ask HMRC to check if you had a new child which either:

  • affected your trading profits or total income you reported for the tax year 2018 to 2019
  • meant you did not submit a Self Assessment tax return for the tax year 2018 to 2019

For this scheme having a new child is any of the following:

  • being pregnant
  • giving birth (including a stillbirth after more than 24 weeks of pregnancy) and the 26 weeks after giving birth
  • caring for a child within 12 months of birth if you have parental responsibility
  • caring for a child within 12 months of adoption placement

Find other help and support that is available to you.

You must have been self-employed in the tax year 2017 to 2018 and have submitted your Self Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020.

You must also meet all other eligibility criteria.

When to ask HMRC to check

You must ask HMRC to verify you had a new child on or before 5 October 2020.

What you’ll need

You’ll need your:

You’ll also need to provide information which could include:

  • your Child Benefit number
  • your child’s birth or adoption certificate number
  • if you’re claiming Maternity Allowance
  • your child’s full name and date of birth
  • the date of adoption
  • why you had maternity or parental responsibility, for example:
    • a parental responsibility agreement
    • a parental order from the court
    • your maternity certificate (MAT B1)

Ask HMRC to verify your information

You’ll need your Government Gateway user ID and password. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you make your claim.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ask-hmrc-to-verify-you-had-a-new-child-which-affected-your-eligibility-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Apprenticeship funding offers support for businesses to recover from Covid-19 impact

£4 million of funding is available for Greater Manchester businesses to train staff through the Apprenticeship Levy Matchmaking scheme, helping businesses to recover following the impact of pandemic.

The Greater Manchester scheme pairs large employers with unspent apprenticeship levy funds, with small and medium sized businesses who can be donated the money for training. Businesses choosing to donate funds can ensure their unspent apprenticeship levy remains in the local economy, rather than returning to the Treasury.

The Greater Manchester apprenticeship levy matchmaking service has supported more than 240 apprenticeships, in over 50 businesses, since August 2019.

Businesses are being urged to sign up to the scheme, to use the apprenticeship funding as a means to upskill their workforce to recover and adapt to the impact of Covid-19 on business finances and market conditions.

Cllr Sean Fielding, Greater Manchester lead for employment, skills and digital, said:

Improving the skills of our workforce is absolutely essential to the success of Greater Manchester’s economy.

“Apprenticeships build higher level and technical skills both for young people and for existing and older employees, helping them to become more productive and efficient.

“The levy matchmaking service provides the funding for the apprenticeship training at no cost to the employer and it also helps to develop great relationships between big companies and the smaller organisations they support in this way.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, added:

As we go into a recovery phase from the COVID-19 crisis it is clear that we must renew our focus on improving skills and investing our workforce.

“We know some people will lose their jobs in sectors that have been worst hit, but there will be opportunities for them to retrain and develop skills in areas of growth.

“This funding will help businesses to recover and to grow, particularly in the sectors identified in our local industrial strategy.”

Mo Isap, co-chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

As our region recovers from COVID-19 the need to support our young people and ensure that our workforce has the skills required to thrive is greater than ever.

“That’s why I’m calling on any organisation with unspent apprenticeship levy to take part in the GMCA Apprenticeship Levy Matchmaking Service.”

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/apprenticeship-funding-offers-support-for-businesses-to-recover-from-covid-19-impact/

£20 million to improve small business leadership and problem-solving skills in the wake of coronavirus

Two new leadership programmes to help small business leaders grow their companies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic have been launched.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis spurs British businesses to adopt new ways of working, the government is investing £20 million to improve small businesses’ management, productivity and problem-solving skills through 2 training programmes, at this crucial time in the UK’s economic recovery.

The Small Business Leadership Programme will focus on strengthening decision-makers’ leadership skills, so they are able to address management challenges, some of which, such as remote working, have arisen from coronavirus. The programme will equip business leaders with the confidence and leadership skills to plan for the future of their business, and ensure that they are in a great position to recover from the impacts of coronavirus.

The 10-week programme – which will be delivered virtually by experts from university business schools – will teach participants how to maximise their business’s potential by improving productivity, organisation and efficiency. Business will undertake a series of 90-minute webinars delivered by leading business experts, and will also be required to complete up to two hours of independent study and peer supported learning per week.

Additionally, the Peer Networks Programme will focus on helping business owners improve their problem-solving skills, through a series of guided exercises. Participants will take part in sessions where common coronavirus related business challenges will be discussed, such as finding new customers and using technology such as customer record management and websites to adapt a business model. Members of the programme will be given skills in areas such as leadership and management, sales and marketing that they need to tackle these challenges head-on while growing their business.

Small Business Minister, Paul Scully, said:

I know from my own experience of running small businesses just how valuable the advice and experience of experts and peers can be when you are looking to grow your company.

The strength of small businesses up and down the country will be vital as we begin to bounce back from coronavirus and re-build our economy. These schemes will help equip small business leaders with the leadership, resilience and problem-solving skills they need to grow their firms in the wake of this pandemic.

Anne Kiem, OBE, CEO of Chartered Association of Business Schools and Executive Director of the Small Business Charter, said:

The effects of coronavirus have been particularly damaging for small businesses and providing their leaders with the experience and knowledge to survive and thrive will be essential for the future success of the country. While cash injections are important, for the long-term, business leaders need the skills to ensure they and their businesses are resilient and can grow throughout this period and beyond. Accessing experts from the world-leading business schools we have in this country will be an essential resource for businesses in the months and years to come.

Mark Bretton, LEP network Chair, said:

As business led Local Enterprise Partnerships with 330 business leaders on our boards, we know the positive impact that proven business leadership and exceptional management skills can have on a business, especially as they face the challenges of COVID-19. But not all businesses have ready access to that level of leadership, the Peer Networks offers them that ready access for free just when they need it most.

The Peer Networks project could make all the difference to the survival of a business and boost their bottom line. The expert knowledge and leadership delivered through the 38 LEP Growth Hubs across the country will be the key to its success, allowing businesses to feed off each other’s knowledge can inspire them to adopt new practices and embed new approaches that could be a game changer.

There are 2,000 places available on the Small Business Leadership Programme and 6,000 on the Peer Networks programme.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/20-million-to-improve-small-business-leadership-and-problem-solving-skills-in-the-wake-of-coronavirus

Further details of the Job Retention Bonus announced

Further details of how jobs will be protected through the government’s new Job Retention Bonus were unveiled by HMRC.

The bonus – announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of his Plan for Jobs last month – will see businesses receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every previously furloughed employee if they are still employed at the end of January next year.

The scheme is designed to continue to support jobs through the UK’s economic recovery from coronavirus by encouraging and helping employers to retain as many employees who’ve been on furlough as possible.

A policy statement published by the HMRC today gives employers further details on eligibility requirements and how they can claim the bonus. Under the terms:

  • employers will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee who has previously been furloughed under Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) – if they remain continuously employed to the end of January 2021
  • to ensure the jobs are meaningful well-paid, employees must earn at least £520 (the National Insurance lower earnings limit) a month on average between the beginning of November and the end of January
  • those who were furloughed and had a claim submitted for them after the 10 June (when the CJRS closed to new entrants), because they were returning from paternal leave or time serving as a military reservist will also be eligible for the bonus as long as they meet the other eligibility criteria
  • employers will also be eligible for employee transfers protected under TUPE legislation, provided they have been continuously employed and meet the other eligibility criteria and the new employer has also submitted a CJRS claim for that employee

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

Our successful furlough scheme will continue to help businesses and protect millions of jobs until the end of October – and our additional £1,000 job retention bonus will ensure this support continues as our economy reopens and people return to work.

We will support jobs and businesses as we come out of this crisis just as we did as we came into it.

As the scheme is designed to protect jobs, those who are serving notice for redundancy will not be eligible for the bonus.

The publication comes as changes to the CJRS- which has so far protected 9.5 million jobs across the UK – come into force. From tomorrow (Saturday August 1), the government will continue to pay 80% of furloughed employees wages, but employers will have to pay employers National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough.

The changes to the CJRS are part of the government’s economic plan to tackle coronavirus. The first phase was about protection, safeguarding millions of businesses and jobs through our unprecedented loans and employment support schemes. The second, as the Chancellor set out earlier this month, was about protecting, supporting and creating jobs. The third and final phase is to rebuild at the Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review in the Autumn.

Further information

  • Further details on the JRB can be found here, and Full guidance will be published in September.
  • Where a CJRS claim for an employee was incorrectly made, a Job Retention Bonus will not be payable.
  • Further details on the CJRS can be found here.
  • The CJRS grant will be tapered from August. In August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 and employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee does not work - 5% of average gross employment costs.
  • In September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
  • In October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-details-of-the-job-retention-bonus-announced

£1 million funding boost for small businesses in Greater Manchester

Small and medium sized business in Greater Manchester are set to benefit from a newly announced government funding scheme.

The government funding can be accessed as grants of between £1000 and £5000, which can be used by small businesses in England to invest in new technology and equipment, as well as cover the costs of professional, legal or financial advice to support their recovery following the coronavirus lockdown. Funding can also be used by regional Growth Hubs to provide one-to-many guidance to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

A total of £20 million is being made available for small businesses in England, of which £1,049,321 of funding has been allocated to Greater Manchester. The scheme has been funded from the England European Regional Development Fund and is being distributed through local Growth Hubs nationwide.

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP said:

We have always said that we would stand behind our businesses and communities as we rebuild following the coronavirus pandemic. This new funding does exactly that.

“Businesses will be able to use these new grants to pay for the expertise, equipment and technology they need to adapt, recover and rebuild.

“Small and medium sized businesses are the beating heart of communities; they provide employment and contribute significantly to local economies and we are determined to give them the support they need to continue to thrive.”

The funding for small businesses are part of a series of measures announced by government to support economic recovery following the coronavirus lockdown. Other measures include the £2 billion Kickstart Scheme to subsidise employment opportunities for young people.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/1-million-funding-boost-for-small-businesses-in-greater-manchester/


28/07/2020

Coronavirus COVID-19: Flexible Furlough and upcoming changes

Hopefully now, if needed, you have been able to utilise the flexible furlough scheme, and that is helping you get your business back up and running, and your employees back to work in some capacity. Following the introduction of flexible furlough on 1st July, there have been a couple of updates with regard to the scheme which we wanted to highlight to you.

When someone is on flexible furlough, how do I manage and pay their holidays?

Principally, where an employee is flexibly furloughed, any holiday taken during the relevant claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours. This means that an employee who is due to work on a part-time basis during a particular claim period should be treated as being on furlough for all holiday taken during that period. You, as the employer, will then be able to claim 80% of the employee’s pay for the whole of the holiday period through the scheme, although you will still have to top-up the employee’s wage to their full rate of pay (which, due to the way HMRC are calculating working days, may equate to more than 20%).

Can I put someone on furlough solely to be able to recoup holidays costs?

The guidance clearly states that employers should not place employees on furlough simply because they are on holiday at that time. It is likely that this would be regarded as an abuse of the scheme.

With HMRC’s apparent commitment to cracking down on companies falsely taking advantage of the job retention scheme, this is something that we would strongly advise against.

How this will be audited by HMRC moving forward remains unclear, but potentially to put an employee on furlough, for the sole purpose of claiming back 80%, could be seen as fraudulent activity.

What changes are there to the furlough scheme from 1st August?

From 1st August, the employer is responsible for paying ALL NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked. The rest of the scheme remains the same as July.

What about changes in restrictions relating to a wider return to work?

Late last week, Boris Johnson announced that from 1st August, employers will have greater control over who returns to work - in the workplace. This is provided that employers take steps to ensure that the workplace is COVID-secure and social distancing measures are in place.

For many businesses who are unable to work from home, this may be old news, as the wheels have probably already been put into motion to get people back into the workplace. However, this relaxation includes businesses that can work from home and allows them to reopen to a certain extent.

It also means that people who have been shielding; those who have childcare or caring responsibilities; those who take public transport and those that are simply anxious of a return may be asked to return to the workplace. Whilst you can insist that these people return, it is recommended that you do so with caution. If employees have been working effectively and productively from home, then it may be seen to be unreasonable to insist they return under these circumstances. There may also be a risk of a claim under the Equality Act.

As such, it is advisable to think longer term and strategically. If a second wave was to hit and a further period of lockdown was enforced – would your business be ready?

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

Video-witnessed wills to be made legal during coronavirus pandemic

Currently, the law states that a will must be made ‘in the presence of’ at least two witnesses. However while isolating or shielding some people have understandably turned to video link software as a solution – for example via platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime.

Ministers have today (25 July) acted to reassure the public that wills witnessed in such a way will be deemed legal, as long as the quality of the sound and video is sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time.

These changes will be made via new legislation in September, which amends the law to include video-witnessing.

Crucially, the move maintains the vital safeguard of requiring two witnesses – protecting people against undue influence and fraud.

Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor, Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, said:

We are pleased that more people are taking the incredibly important step to plan for the future by making a will.

We know that the pandemic has made this process more difficult, which is why we are changing law to ensure that wills witnessed via video technology are legally recognised.

Our measures will give peace of mind to many that their last wishes can still be recorded during this challenging time, while continuing to protect the elderly and vulnerable.

The measures will be backdated to 31 January 2020 – the date of the first confirmed coronavirus case in the UK – meaning any will witnessed by video technology from that date onwards will be legally accepted. The change will remain in place until 31 January 2022, or as long as deemed necessary, after which wills must return to being made with witnesses who are physically present.

The use of video technology should remain a last resort, and people must continue to arrange physical witnessing of wills where it is safe to do so. Wills witnessed through windows are already considered legitimate in case law as long as they have clear sight of the person signing it.

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said:

The government’s decision to allow wills to be witnessed remotely for the next two years will help alleviate the difficulties that some members of thepublic have encountered when making wills during the pandemic.

The Law Society is glad to see that guidance has been issued to minimise fraud and abuse. We look forward to working with government to ensure the reform is robust and successful.

Emily Deane, Technical Counsel at STEP, said:

We are delighted that the Government has responded to the industry’s calls to allow will witnessing over video conference. By removing the need for any physical witnesses, wills can continue to be drawn up efficiently, effectively and safely by those isolating.

STEP also welcomes the move to apply this retrospectively, which will provide reassurance to anyone who has had no choice but to execute a will in this manner prior to this legislation being enacted. We hope the policy will continue to evolve and enable more people to execute a will at this difficult time.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/video-witnessed-wills-to-be-made-legal-during-coronavirus-pandemic

Reporting outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 early outbreak management information has been created to make sure that people who run businesses or organisations:

  • know how to recognise and report an incident of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • are aware of measures local health protection teams may advise in order to contain it

This information is contained within ‘action cards’ that have been designed for specific situations where an outbreak could occur. This could be a:

  • restaurant or café
  • construction site
  • place of worship

Learn more: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reporting-outbreaks-of-coronavirus-covid-19

Staying COVID-19 Secure in 2020 notice

Once you have carried out a risk assessment you should display the above notice in your workplace to show that you have complied with the guidance on managing the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).

COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities

This guidance provides advice to landlords and tenants on the provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020, and further advice for landlords, tenants and local authorities more broadly about their rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Get more information about the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme

Find more detailed information on the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme, why the government is running the scheme and how to offer the discount to your customers.

Claim money back through the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme

If you have registered your establishment for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme and offered scheme discounts to diners on Mondays to Wednesdays between 3 and 31 August, you can:

  • claim back the discount given on food and non-alcoholic drinks
  • submit weekly claims for August until 30 September

You must make the claim yourself, you cannot ask an agent to do it for you.

You must enter accurate details for all the establishments you’re claiming for before submitting your claim. If you need to amend information later your payment may be delayed.

When you can claim

You can make a claim after 7 days from the date of your registration. The earliest you can make a claim is 7 August. You can only claim for scheme discounts you offered on or after the date you registered. 

What you’ll need

You’ll need the records you’ve kept for each day you’ve used the scheme, including the:

  • total number of diners (covers) who have used the scheme, including children
  • total amount of discount you’ve given
  • period you’re claiming for

If you’re making a claim for more than one establishment, you will need to have the:

  • records for each establishment
  • overall total value of the claim for all establishments ready before you claim

How to claim

You cannot make a claim yet. The service to claim reimbursement will be available from 7 August 2020.

You can make up to 5 claims before 30 September. You cannot claim after that.

When you sign into the service you must choose the periods that you claiming for, from:

  • 3 to 5 August
  • 10 to 12 August
  • 17 to 19 August
  • 24 to 26 August
  • 31 August

You’ll also need to enter the total number of covers and claim value for each establishment that has offered the scheme discount.

Records you must keep

You can keep records relating to the scheme in a way that suits your business.

To show the link between the number of diners who got the discount and the total value of scheme discount being claimed for in each claim period, for each day you must have a record of the:

  • total number of diners who have used the scheme discount in your establishment
  • total value of all eat in food and non-alcoholic drink sold where the scheme discounts were given
  • total value of scheme discounts you’ve given and claimed for

If you are using the scheme for more than one establishment, you must keep these records for each.

What happens next

Once you’ve claimed, you’ll get a claim reference number. HMRC will then check your claim is correct and pay the claim amount by BACs into the bank account you gave when you registered, within 5 working days.

Paying tax

You’ll still need to pay VAT based on the full amount of your customer’s bill before the scheme discount is applied. This amount needs to be reflected in the correct VAT return for the period the transaction took place.

If your point of sale system does not allow you to account for VAT accurately under this scheme, you can manually adjust your VAT account after the sale.

If you cannot include the adjustment in the period the transaction took place, you should estimate the VAT and you must account for any difference in your next VAT return.

The payment you receive will be treated as taxable income.

If you need to make a correction

We’ll update this guidance with instructions on how to amend a claim before 7 August.

If you need to correct any information given during registration or amend your registration, you’ll need to contact HMRC.

Read here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-money-back-through-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme

COVID-19: guidance for food businesses

This guidance is intended for all workplaces involved in the manufacturing, processing, warehousing, picking, packaging, retailing and service of food.

This also includes important information about the risk of community dissemination of coronavirus (COVID-19) from circumstances or activities related to the workplace such as transportation and accommodation arrangements.

This guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation.

Read more: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-food-businesses

Making Tax Digital for VAT

VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000) are now required to follow the Making Tax Digital rules by keeping digital records and using software to submit their VAT returns.

If you are below the VAT threshold you can voluntarily join the Making Tax Digital service now.

VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover below £85,000 will be required to follow Making Tax digital rules for their first return starting on or after April 2022.

Making Tax Digital for Income Tax

Self-employed businesses and landlords with business turnover above £10,000 will need to follow the rules for MTD for Income Tax from their next account period starting on or after 6 April 2023.

Some businesses and agents are already keeping digital records and providing updates to HMRC as part of a live pilot to test and develop the Making Tax Digital service for Income Tax. If you are a self-employed business or landlord you can voluntarily use software to keep business records digitally and send Income Tax updates to HMRC instead of filing a Self-Assessment tax return.

Making changes to employment contracts

It is highly likely that an employee’s terms and conditions will need to be amended at some point during the course of their employment. An obvious change to an employment contract could be in relation to a promotion or salary increase. These are likely to be mutual changes that both parties are in agreement with and will therefore be fairly straightforward to achieve.

However, there may be times when the employee or the employer proposes a change to the employment contract that the other party is less willing to agree to.

Changes to Proposed by the Employer

The employer may seek to vary the terms and conditions of its employees for a number of reasons, for example:

  • Changes to pay rates, bonus schemes, hours of work, staffing structures and place of work
  • Harmonisation of terms and conditions across the business

Consultation with employees with a view to obtaining agreement is likely to be the easiest way for an employer to change terms and conditions. However, where this cannot be achieved, the employer could consider a variety of ways to implement the change including:

  • Terminate the existing employment contract and offer re-engagement on different terms – often known as ‘dismissal and re-engagement’. This could carry the risk of unfair dismissal if a fair process is not followed, and breach of contract if the required notice is not issued.
  • Unilaterally impose the changes and rely on the employee’s conduct to establish implied agreement. This could result in the employee resigning and claiming constructive unfair dismissal, or working under protest and bringing claims such as breach of contract or unlawful deduction from wages.
  • There may be a collective agreement in place in individual contracts of employment, which may enable the employer to make the change they are seeking, without breaching the terms of the contract.

Where an employer is proposing to vary terms and conditions for 20 or more staff, this would fall under collective consultation rules. Failure to comply with these rules could result in the employer being ordered to pay a protective award of up to 90 days’ pay to each affected employee.

It is therefore important that advice is sought at an early stage before any contractual changes are implemented without express agreement.

Changes to an Employment Contract Proposed by the Employee

All employees have a statutory legal right to apply for flexible working if they have been working for their employer for a minimum of 26 weeks. There are many ways of working flexibly and some examples of this could be:

  • Requests to reduce their working hours either on a temporary or permanent basis
  • Requests to vary their working pattern, to take into account childcare needs
  • Requests to work from home
  • Requests to change their place of work
  • Requests to work compressed hours
  • Requests for phased retirement

Employees are required to submit their application to work flexibly in writing to their employer – their employer then has 3 months in which to consider the application and respond accordingly, or longer if agreed with the employee.

If the employer agrees to the change, then this is put in writing to the employee. However, if the employer disagrees, they must write to the employee giving the business reasons for the refusal.

Currently, employers can reject an application for flexible working on the following grounds:

  • extra costs that will damage the business
  • the work cannot be reorganised among other staff
  • people cannot be recruited to do the work
  • flexible working will affect quality and/or performance
  • the business will not be able to meet customer demand
  • there’s a lack of work to do during the proposed working times
  • the business is planning changes to the workforce

Employees can make one application for flexible working every 12 months.

There are various options available for employers and employees to seek flexibility in their working arrangements and we would always recommend you seek advice should you receive a flexible working request or wish to seek to vary terms and conditions of employment.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-making-changes-to-employment-contracts/

VAT: reduced rate for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions

The government made an announcement on 8 July 2020 allowing VAT registered businesses to apply a temporary 5% reduced rate of VAT to certain supplies relating to:

  • hospitality
  • hotel and holiday accommodation
  • admissions to certain attractions

The temporary reduced rate will apply to supplies that are made between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.

These changes are being brought in as an urgent response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to support businesses severely affected by forced closures and social distancing measures.

Hospitality

If you supply food and non-alcoholic beverages for consumption on your premises, for example, a restaurant, café or pub, you’re currently required to charge VAT at the standard rate of 20%. However, when you make these supplies between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021 you will only need to charge 5%.

You will also be able to charge the reduced rate of VAT on your supplies of hot takeaway food and hot takeaway non-alcoholic drinks.

More information about how these changes apply to your business can be found in Catering, takeaway food (VAT Notice 709/1).

Hotel and holiday accommodation

You will also benefit from the temporary reduced rate if you:

  • supply sleeping accommodation in a hotel or similar establishment
  • make certain supplies of holiday accommodation
  • charge fees for caravan pitches and associated facilities
  • charge fees for tent pitches or camping facilities

More information about how these changes apply to your business can be found in Hotels and holiday accommodation (VAT Notice 709/3).

Admission to certain attractions

If you charge a fee for admission to certain attractions where the supplies are currently standard rated, you will only need to charge the reduced rate of VAT between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021.

However, if the fee you charge for admission is currently exempt that will take precedence and your supplies will not qualify for the reduced rate.

More information about how these changes apply to your business can be found in VAT: Admission charges to attractions.

The Flat Rate Scheme

If you are a small business and use the use the Flat Rate Scheme to simplify your VAT calculations you should be aware that certain percentages have been reduced in line with the introduction of the temporary reduced rate of VAT.

More information can be found in VAT Flat Rate Scheme.

The Tour Operators Margin Scheme

If you are a business that buys in and resells travel, accommodation and certain other services, and you act in your own name, you may operate the Tour Operators Margin Scheme to simplify your calculations.

Further information about how the introduction of the temporary reduced rate of VAT will affect your calculations can be found in Tour Operators Margin Scheme (VAT Notice 709/5).

Accounting for supplies that straddle the temporary reduced rate

In most cases, you will simply account for VAT at 5% for supplies made between 15 July 2020 and 12 January 2021. However, there may be situations where you receive payments or issue invoices before 15 July 2020 for supplies that take place on or after 15 July 2020.

More information about this can be found in sections 30.7.4 to 30.9.2 of VAT guide (VAT Notice 700).

Retail schemes

Catering businesses using retail schemes may have to alter their accounting systems for the period 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021.

If you have a bespoke retail scheme agreement, you should review it and if you think an alteration is needed, contact your large business Customer Compliance Manager, or if you are not a large business customer you should contact Kamran.Hussain@hmrc.gov.uk.

Catering businesses operating the catering adaption

If you have a turnover of between £1 million and £130 million and using a catering adaption method previously agreed with HMRC you may alter the scheme without prior agreement for the period providing the calculation gives a fair and reasonable result. You must then revert back to your previous scheme.

You should keep the records of how you altered the scheme as part of your business records.

To find out more about catering adaption, read section 7 of in Notice 727.

Caterers using the direct calculation scheme

If all your sales are at the reduced rate then the reduced rate will apply to your daily gross takings during the period.

If you have mixed supplies and your till is not programmed to account for different rates then you may adopt the principles of the direct calculation scheme, if appropriate, to the standard rated goods. Otherwise you should make a fair and reasonable apportionment and retain your workings as part of your business records.

Read here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-reduced-rate-for-hospitality-holiday-accommodation-and-attractions


21/07/2020

Business events and conferences given go ahead to resume from 1 October

Business events, conferences and events centres will be given the go ahead to reopen on 1 October adhering to social distancing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

Provided levels of infection remain at current rates, this will see the return of the sector worth approximately £32.6 billion to the UK each year. 

The sector represented a quarter of the 38 million international visits to the UK in 2018 and provides a welcome boost to visitor numbers during the off peak tourist season.

Following the announcement today, a number of pilots will take place at event venues across the country to plan for a return to large-scale events and test how best to implement social distancing practises. Details of these pilots will be finalised in partnership with the sector in the coming weeks.

New guidance, published by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport and the Association of Event Organisers today, will help event organisers, venue operators and participants in the UK understand how they can work and host business events and conferences and keep both their guests and staff safe.

Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston said:

Business events and conferences are a key part of our visitor economy and this is an important step in getting them back up and running safely.

Pilots will help inform our plans for the return of the sector in October with guests and staff adhering to social distancing and measures introduced to reduce close contact.

The UK has a great reputation in staging fantastic events that help drive growth for many different sectors and this will give the business event sector the certainty it needs to plan for the future.

The guidance makes clear that the following measures should be considered to allow for safe resumption of business events and conferences:

  • Attendees will need to pre-book and pre-register to attend events
  • Contactless registration systems will be introduced at venues to reduce waiting times and limit contact between organisers and guests
  • A digital first approach will be adopted to eliminate the need for physical badges and lanyards
  • Paper handouts and gifts will no longer be offered
  • Entrance to event or conference spaces will be staggered to reduce queuing and overall capacity will be limited to ensure social distancing can be maintained
  • Events will be planned around one way systems for visitors
  • Spaces between exhibition booths will be increased and aisles widened to achieve social distancing requirements
  • All venues will also have enhanced cleaning procedures, with hand washing and sanitising facilities at frequent intervals

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/business-events-and-conferences-given-go-ahead-to-resume-from-1-october

New Plans Ensure Trade Between Each Part Of The UK

The UK government has laid out plans to deliver on its manifesto commitment to ensure businesses across the whole of the United Kingdom will continue to enjoy seamless internal trade, as they have done for centuries, when we leave the Brexit transition period at the end of the year.

From 1 January 2021, powers in at least 70 policy areas previously exercised at an EU level will flow directly to the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast for the first time. This will give the devolved administrations power over more issues than they have ever had before, without removing any of their current powers.

Powers are set to return across a raft of areas, including regulations for energy efficiency of buildings, air quality and animal welfare. To ensure businesses can continue to trade seamlessly across the UK as they do now, new legislation will be brought forward to preserve access to all parts of the UK for goods and services.

Holyrood, Cardiff and Stormont will receive new powers in at least 70 policy areas including parts of employment law, land use and air quality, among many others.

Under plans now open for consultation, the Government has stated it will strengthen and maintain the coherence of the UK’s internal market, guaranteeing the continued ability of all UK companies to trade unhindered in every part of the United Kingdom. 

For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-acts-to-protect-jobs-in-every-part-of-the-uk

Stamp duty relief explained

Following a recent announcement by the Chancellor, Stockport solicitors, SAS Daniels, explain how the stamp duty relief announced could affect the purchase of your next property.

On 8th July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a temporary stamp duty holiday for those buying a new home under the value of £500,000, as well as a reduced rate of payment for those purchasing investment properties or second homes.

Associate solicitor in SAS Daniels’ residential conveyancing team, Jo Unwin, explains in a short video the fundamentals of the new stamp duty relief and how it may affect you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNyTsVuQeWM&feature=emb_logo

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-stamp-duty-relief-explained/


16/07/2020

VAT Flat Rate Scheme

New flat rate percentages from 15 July until 12 January have been announced, which include:

  • Catering 4.5%
  • Pubs 1%
  • Hotels and accommodation 0%

Eat Out to Help Out Scheme

Register your establishment, claim money back, or get a discount with the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

The £1000 Job Retention Bonus

On 8 July, the Chancellor announced a new Job Retention Bonus for employers who have used the Job Retention Scheme.

Employers will receive a £1000 cash bonus for every furloughed employee provided that:

  • the employer brings the furloughed employee back to work and continues to employ them for the period of November 2020 to the end of January 2021
  • the employee earns a minimum of £520 average per month between November and January 2021.

Payments will be made from February 2021, and further details on the scheme will be announced by the end of July 2020.

https://app.croneri.co.uk/questions-and-answers/1000-job-retention-bonus 

Stockport Coronavirus Grant Scheme passes £60 million mark

Nearly 5,250 Stockport businesses have each received a share of over £60 million in grant funding as part of the Small Business Rate Relief and Hospitality sector financial support schemes announced by the Government as the UK entered lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Small Business Grant Funding and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) are designed to help with business costs during coronavirus. Administered by Stockport Council, the business rates team at SMBC have managed to identify and make payments to over 96% of all qualifying businesses across the borough. 

Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said:

Hitting this landmark amount has involved a tremendous amount of hard work from a host of officers across the council – I would like to thank everyone involved who has made this happen.

“We know how hard this crisis has hit businesses in Stockport, and we will continue to do everything we realistically can to support businesses in our borough.”

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/stockport-coronavirus-grant-scheme-passes-60-million-mark/

Stockport Council launches Phase 4 of the Local Authority Discretionary (LAD) Grant Fund

In response to a number of businesses having been identified as ‘falling through the net’, in May the Government launched the Local Authority Discretionary Grant fund to support small and micro businesses not eligible for other grant schemes.

While local authorities have some discretion about how to prioritise this funding they were initially, directed to prioritise businesses such as small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, regular market traders, bed and breakfasts paying council tax instead of business rates and charity properties getting charitable business rates relief, which are not eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief.

Following the release of Phases 1 to 3, Stockport Council have released a further phase which will widen the opportunities for more businesses to apply. Businesses eligible to apply for a grant for support with their monthly fixed property costs in phase 4 are required to be Stockport based small and micro businesses; businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs, not based at home, of at least £250 per month; businesses also need to demonstrate that they’ve suffered a significant fall in income due to the coronavirus outbreak and businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000, or £150,000 if they are hospitality or leisure businesses. Grants awarded will either £2,500, £5,000, £7,500, £10,000 or £25,000 and will be provided to support fixed property costs and not to compensate for loss of income.

In phase 4 there is also an opportunity to apply for a fixed grant of £2,000 for registered businesses based in Stockport who are home based or self-employed that have not had access to any other financial support linked to Covid-19, but who have endured a significant reduction in income due to Covid-19.

Applications will close at midnight on Friday 07/08/2020. The Council is processing applications in phase four on a first come, first served basis, and reserves the right to close the phase four of applications early if the funds are exhausted before the application deadline. Applying for a grant will not guarantee that one is made if the funds have been fully used up for earlier applications.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/phase-4-of-stockport-local-authority-discretionary-grant-scheme-now-open/


14/07/2020

Register your establishment for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme

Find out how to register your restaurant or establishment for the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

You can use the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme to offer a discount to diners and encourage them to eat at your restaurant.

You can use the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme:

  • all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 31 August 2020
  • to offer a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, to diners for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in
  • to claim the money back from the government

There is no limit to the number of times customers can use the offer during the period of the scheme. Your customers cannot get a discount for someone who is not eating or drinking.

Alcohol and service charges are excluded from the offer.

Registration will close on 31 August.

Who can register

You can register if your establishment:

  • sells food for immediate consumption on the premises
  • provides its own dining area or shares a dining area with another establishment for eat-in meals
  • was registered as a food business with the relevant local authority on or before 7 July

You cannot register:

  • an establishment that only offers takeaway food or drink
  • catering services for private functions
  • a hotel that provides room service only
  • dining services (such as packaged dinner cruises)
  • mobile food vans or trailers

If your application is based on dishonest or inaccurate information, your registration will be revoked.

What you’ll need

To register, you must have:

  • the Government Gateway ID and password for your business (if you do not have one, you can create one when you register)
  • the name and address of each establishment to be registered, unless you are registering more than 25
  • the UK bank account number and sort code for the business (only provide bank account details where a BACS payment can be accepted)
  • the address on your bank account for the business (this is the address on your bank statements)

You may also need your:

  • VAT registration number (if applicable)
  • employer PAYE scheme reference number (if applicable)
  • Corporation Tax or Self Assessment unique taxpayer reference

If you are registering 25 establishments or less, you must provide the details of each.

If you’re registering more than 25 establishments

If you’re registering more than 25 establishments that are part of the same business, you do not have to provide details for each one.

You should provide a link to a website which contains details of each establishment participating in the scheme including the trading name and address.

You may also need to provide a list to HMRC on request, with details of all participating establishments.

Register

You’ll need a Government Gateway user ID and password for your business. If you do not have one, you can create one when you register.

Online services may be slow during busy times. Check if there are any problems with this service.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/register-your-establishment-for-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme

Eat Out to Help Out Scheme: promotional materials

Posters, images and other promotional materials for use by establishments who are taking part in the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme.

The materials on the below government page are for use by establishments that have already registered to take part in the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

Find out:

Once you have registered, we encourage you to use these materials at your premises, on social media and in other communications activities to promote your participation in the scheme.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eat-out-to-help-out-scheme-promotional-materials

Individuals you can claim for through the CJRS who are not employees

Find out if you can claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for individuals who are not employees.

You can claim a grant for individuals who are not employees - as long as they’re paid via PAYE. The groups you can claim for include:

  • office holders (including company directors)
  • salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)
  • agency workers (including those employed by umbrella companies)
  • limb (b) workers
  • Contingent workers in the public sector
  • Contractors with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)

Individuals who are paid through PAYE but not necessarily employees in employment law, can continue to be furloughed from 1 July as long as you have previously submitted a claim for them for a furlough period of at least 3 weeks between 1 March and 30 June 2020.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/individuals-you-can-claim-for-who-are-not-employees

Beauty salons reopen for some services under new government guidelines

Businesses including beauty salons, nail bars and tattoo studios can reopen safely from Monday 13 July.

Beauty salons, nail bars, tattoo and massage studios, physical therapy businesses and spas across England are able to reopen safely from Monday 13 July under new government plans.

Updated COVID-19 secure guidance sets out the measures that those providing close contact services should follow to protect staff and customers. Only services that do not involve work in the highest risk zone – directly in front of the face – should be made available to clients. This means that treatments such as face waxing, eyelash treatments, make-up application and facial treatments, should not be provided until government advice changes, due to the much greater risk of transmission.

Where 2 metre social distancing cannot be maintained, for example when providing a treatment, the person providing the service should wear further protection in addition to any that they may usually wear. This should be a clear visor that covers the face, or the use of a screen or other barrier that protects the practitioner and the customer from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking.

The government has worked with a range of stakeholders in the beauty industry to develop the measures close contact services will need to consider to become COVID-19 secure, including:

  • using screens or barriers to separate clients from each other, and to separate practitioners from clients, such as in nail salons
  • operating an appointment-only booking system to minimise the number of people on the premises at any one time
  • keeping the activity time involved to a minimum
  • increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning, as well as regularly cleaning equipment or using disposable equipment where possible
  • avoiding skin to skin contact and wearing gloves where it is not crucial to the service, such as in nail bars and tanning salons
  • maintaining sufficient spacing between customer chairs
  • not allowing food or drink, other than water, to be consumed in the salon by customers
  • making sure a limited and fixed number of workers work together, if they have to be in close proximity to do their jobs

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma said:

We have been clear throughout this crisis that we want as many businesses as possible to reopen, but we must be confident it is safe for them to do so.

From Monday 13 July thousands more businesses which offer close contact services like nail and beauty salons will be able to welcome customers back in a way that is safe for both workers and the public.

Enabling these often small, independent businesses to reopen is yet another step in our plan to kickstart the economy to support jobs and incomes across the country.

Millie Kendall MBE, British Beauty Council, said:

The decision to broaden the scope of available hair and beauty services will allow many more beauty professionals to get back to work, and will also allow customers to benefit from a range of beauty treatments which can be carried out safely for both client and practitioner. It’s a positive step, but we are still only part of the way there. We will keep working closely with governing bodies and supporting everyone in beauty until we are able to achieve the fully-reinvigorated beauty industry we all want.

Helena Grzesk, UK Spa Association, said:

I am extremely pleased that BEIS has published updated guidelines allowing spas to reopen. Spas can be a complex environment to risk assess and understand, simply because we work across such a wide range of wellness sector disciplines. The evidence we provided demonstrated that spas have always operated as semi-clinical environments, and we were happy to work with BEIS to ensure the sector was able to begin to reopen as safely yet swiftly as possible, so that we could get back to helping the nation recover physically, mentally and emotionally post-lockdown.

I am confident that these new government guidelines will help all spas and salons prepare in detail for a safe and successful reopening, and I look forward to our sector getting back to business during this difficult time.

The guidance also applies to businesses that operate in different locations, such as massage therapists working in people’s homes, and those learning in vocational training environments.

Businesses will need to keep records of staff and customers and share these with NHS Test and Trace where requested, to help identify people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.

Employers should display a downloadable notice in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors to their workplace, that they have followed this guidance.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/beauty-salons-set-to-reopen-for-some-services-next-week-under-new-government-guidelines

Financial support for education, early years and children’s social care

This guidance provides details of support and government funding for organisations in:

  • education
  • childcare
  • children’s social care

VAT on admission charges to attractions

Check which attractions are eligible for the temporary reduced rate of VAT from 15 July 2020.

A new temporary reduced rate of VAT of 5% was announced on 8 July 2020 for admission to certain attractions. This temporary rate will apply from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021.

Who this applies to

This applies to businesses that make supplies of admissions that are currently taxable at the standard rate. This includes:

  • shows
  • theatres
  • circuses
  • fairs
  • amusement parks
  • concerts
  • museums
  • zoos
  • cinemas
  • exhibitions
  • similar cultural events and facilities

Examples of where the reduced rate may apply could be attractions such as:

  • a planetarium
  • botanical gardens
  • studio tours
  • factory tours

It does not include any supplies that are exempt under Items 1 or 2 of Group 13 of Schedule 9 to VAT Act 1994.

The temporary reduced rate does not apply to admission to sporting events.

This temporary reduced rate only applies to admission fees.

However, where goods are part of the admission fee and are incidental to the main supply, the whole supply is eligible for the temporary reduced rate.

Further information can be found in paragraph 8.1 of VAT guide: VAT Notice 700.

Supplies which include other incidental supplies

If the main supply is the admission fee to one of the attractions listed above and any other supplies included are incidental, the whole supply will be eligible for the temporary reduced rate. It is the responsibility of each taxpayer to demonstrate that its supplies are eligible for the temporary reduced rate.

Example 1 :

The supply of admission to a tour of a brewery or distillery includes an incidental supply of food and drink as part of the tour. This will be a single supply and will benefit from the temporary reduced rate. However, if the provision of food and drink is the main purpose of the supply, it would not qualify.

Example 2:

The supply of admission to an event such as an exhibition that includes an incidental supply of a brochure or activity book, would be a single reduced rated supply.

Live online performances

If an admission fee is charged to view an online live performance (not a pre-recorded event), this may be eligible for the temporary reduced rate of VAT. This depends on the circumstances in each case and is subject to the fee not already being covered by the Cultural VAT exemption.

When considering the correct VAT liability, you should also check the HMRC Public Notice 741A ‘Place of Supply of Services’, which also includes links to relevant guidance on digital services.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-on-admission-charges-to-attractions


09/07/2020

Summer update: Chancellor offers job funding, VAT cuts and eat out discounts

Just four months after his first Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a summer economic update designed to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a commitment to encouraging job creation through a government ‘plan for jobs’ and stimulus for consumer spending.

Announcing a package of measures, Sunak said the aim was to ‘give everyone the opportunity of good and secure work, so no one is left without hope.

‘Our plan for jobs has a clear goal – to protect, support and create jobs. We want to give business confidence to retain and hire.’

Coronavirus job retention bonus

Confirming that the coronavirus job retention scheme will be flexibly and gradually wound down through October, Sunak said the second phase of the economic recovery would focus on getting as many people as possible back from furlough and into jobs.

‘The economy contracted by 25% in two months, the same amount as it had grown over the previous 18 years. The most urgent challenge now is to halt job losses.

‘The truth is, calling for endless extensions to the furlough is just as irresponsible as it would have been back in June to end the scheme overnight.

‘Leaving the furlough scheme open forever gives false hope that people will return to the jobs they had before,’ the Chancellor said.

To reward and incentivise employers to bring back employees, any employer who brings back a furloughed member of staff through to January 2021 will receive a £1,000 bonus per employee. this is conditional on the employee being paid at least £520 per month in November and December, equivalent to the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions.

Sunak said that if all 9m furloughed employees return, then this policy will cost the government £9bn.

Kickstart scheme

Highlighting that the younger generation have been hardest hit by coronavirus disruption, with 700,000 leaving education this year and many more starting out on their careers, Sunak announced the Kickstart scheme for employers who create new jobs for any 16-24 year old at risk of unemployment.

The government will pay young people’s wages for six months, plus an amount for overheads, which will give employers a grant of around £6,500 for each employee taken on. The funding is conditional on these being new jobs, paid at national minimum wage and for at least 25 hours a week.

Employers will be able to apply from next month, with the first Kickstarters in jobs in the autumn. Sunak said he is providing an initial £2bn to fund the scheme, with no cap on the number of places available.

For the first time ever, the government will pay employers £1,000 to take on new trainees, with the aim of tripling the number of level 2 and level 3 courses, at a cost of £100m.

There is also extra funding for careers advice, and a tripling of the number of places in sector-based work academies.

In addition, over the next six months the government will pay employers to create new apprenticeships, with a grant of £2,000 per apprentice hired. There is a new bonus payment of £1,500 for hiring those aged over 25.

The government is also providing £1bn to the Department for Work and Pensions, to fund additional support to help those on universal credit get back into work.

Green jobs

The Chancellor announced a £2bn green home grant, to support a green-led recovery. From September homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for vouchers to make housing more energy efficient and to create local jobs.

The government will cover two thirds of the cost up to £5,000 per household, and up to £10,000 for those on low incomes.

There is also £1bn of funding for developing energy efficiency in public sector building.

Stamp duty cut

The Chancellor pointed out that property transactions fell 50% in May, while house prices fell for the first time in eight years.

To boost the housing market, Sunak announced a cut in stamp duty, increasing the threshold for payment from the current £125,000 to £500,000. This is a temporary cut until 31 March 2021 and will take effect immediately. Treasury estimates suggest the average homebuyer will see their bill fall by £4,5000, and nearly nine out of ten main home buyers will pay no duty at all.

VAT cut for hospitality sector

The Chancellor said hospitality and tourism had been badly impacted by coronavirus, and with two million workers employed in the sector it was important to ‘get pubs, restaurants, attractions and b&bs bustling again’.

He announced two measures. Firstly, there is a VAT cut from 15 July to 12 January 2021, reducing the rate from 20% to 5% for six months. Described by Sunak as a ‘£4bn catalyst’, this will see the VAT cut applied to food, accommodation, eat in or hot takeaways, cinemas, zoos and theme parks.

Secondly, Sunak unveiled a final measure which he said had never been tried in the UK before, and marked a ‘unique moment’.

‘To get customers back into restaurants, cafes, and pubs and to protect the jobs of workers, for the month of August, we will give everyone an “eat out to help out” discount,’ Sunak explained.

This discount will apply to meals eaten at any participating business on Monday to Wednesday and will be 50% off to a maximum of £10 per head. The government will open a website where business can register for the scheme online, with the funds they claim back paid within five working days.

https://www.accountancydaily.co/summer-update-chancellor-offers-job-funding-vat-cuts-and-eat-out-discounts

Defer your Self Assessment payment on account due to coronavirus

Choose how and when you can delay making your second payment on account for the 2019 to 2020 tax year.

You have the option to defer your second payment on account if you’re:

  • registered in the UK for Self Assessment and
  • finding it difficult to make your second payment on account by 31 July 2020 due to the impact of coronavirus

You can still make the payment by 31 July 2020 as normal if you’re able to do so.

The June 2020 Self Assessment statements showed 31 January 2021 as the due date for paying the July 2020 Payment on Account. This is because HMRC updated their IT systems to prevent customers incurring late payment interest on any July 2020 Payment on Account paid between 1st August 2020 and 31 January 2021. The deferment has not been applied for all customers by HMRC and it remains optional.

HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount of the deferred payment on account, provided it’s paid on or before 31 January 2021.

You will still need to submit your Self Assessment tax return to HMRC on time.

If you choose to defer

You do not need to tell HMRC that you’re deferring your payment on account.

Choosing to defer will not stop you from being entitled to other coronavirus support that HMRC provides.

You must make your second payment on account on or before 31 January 2021 if you choose to defer. Other payments you may have to make by this date include any:

  • balancing payment due for the 2019 to 2020 tax year
  • first payment on account due for the 2020 to 2021 tax year

You can check payments you need to make towards your next tax bill by signing in to your online account.

If you want to pay in full

You can pay your second payment on account bill in full any time between 31 July 2020 and 31 January 2021 using the online service.

If you want to pay in instalments

You need to contact HMRC if you already have overdue tax which you’re paying through a Time to Pay instalment arrangement and want to include your second payment on account in that arrangement.

If you do not have other overdue taxes, you can make your payment in instalments any time between now and 31 January 2021 by setting up a budget payment plan.

Payments made by Direct Debit

If you choose to defer and normally make your payments on account by Direct Debit, you should cancel your Direct Debit through your bank as soon as possible so that HMRC will not automatically collect any payment due. You can cancel online if you’re registered for online banking.

After the deferral ends

The usual interest, penalties and collection procedures will apply to missed payments.

How to get help

If you’re still struggling to pay your tax bill by 31 January 2021, or you’re experiencing other financial difficulties you can contact HMRC’s Time to Pay service.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/defer-your-self-assessment-payment-on-account-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Making and registering a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) during the Coronavirus outbreak

The Pandemic has led to a lot of soul searching and worry about “what if?” for many of us, not only physically but also mentally. An LPA is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) choose trusted people (‘attorneys’) to make financial decisions or health and care decisions on your behalf if you cannot.

An LPA is mainly used if you do not have the mental capacity to understand and make decisions yourself. You need mental capacity to make an LPA and this means the ability to make a specific decision at the time that it needs to be made. You do not need a lawyer to make an LPA, unless you have unusual or specific requirements.

You will have to choose what sort of decision you will need help with. There are two kinds of LPA, covering two kinds of decisions:

  • money, finances and property
  • health and care

Each LPA has its own form. To choose both, fill in both forms which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/make-a-lasting-power-of-attorney/lp12-make-and-register-your-lasting-power-of-attorney-a-guide-web-version


07/07/2020

How different circumstances affect the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

The Government has updated the guidance for self-employed or member of a partnership to explain how certain circumstances can affect your eligibility for the scheme.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme currently allows you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. If you are eligible you must make your claim for the first grant on or before 13 July 2020.

This scheme is being extended until 19 October 2020. You will be able to claim a second and final grant from 17 August 2020 when the online service will be available.

HMRC will work out your eligibility the same way as the first grant. If you make a claim for the second grant you will have to confirm your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020.

This grant will be a taxable grant worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering a further 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

You can claim for the second and final grant even if you did not make a claim for the first grant.

The online service for the second and final grant is not available yet.

We will update you when the second grant is available. In the meantime see:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme#extension

Government agrees support package to UK steel company

The UK government has today confirmed that it has provided an emergency loan to Celsa Steel (UK) Ltd to allow the company to continue trading.

The agreement will safeguard a key supplier to the UK construction industry and secures more than 1,000 jobs, including more than 800 positions at the company’s main sites in South Wales.

As part of the loan, which is expected to be repaid in full, the company must meet a series of legally-binding conditions, which the government has negotiated to ensure the loan benefits the workforce, business and wider society. This will ensure public money is used to aid wider government policies to further benefit the UK. These conditions include commitments to protect jobs, climate change and net zero targets, improved corporate governance, such as restraints on executive pay and bonuses, and tax obligations. It has also required further financial commitments from shareholders and existing lenders.

The government has brought together the firm’s management, shareholders, and other lenders to create a strong package of support for the company, its workers and UK economy. This is a good deal for all parties.

In March, the government was quick to establish a broad package of support schemes for companies of all sizes across sectors, to protect businesses and livelihoods during the pandemic.

Through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, more than 1 million loans have been approved – while 9.3 million jobs have been protected through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

In exceptional circumstances, where a company is of strategic importance and all other options have been exhausted, the government may consider providing bespoke support. This is a capability that the government has had for many years, and like previously, there is an extremely high bar for putting taxpayers’ money at risk in this way, and any companies seeking support from the Government should do so as an absolute last resort.

Furthermore, companies should be able to demonstrate that they can reasonably be expected to have a viable long-term future, have exhausted all other financing options (including support from existing shareholders and private sector lenders) and that their failure or financial distress could cause disproportionate harm to the UK economy or society.

More broadly in support of the UK’s steel industry, the government has provided more than £300 million relief for electricity costs since 2013, public procurement guidelines with annual reports on the proportion of public sector steel bought from British firms, and details of a steel pipeline on national infrastructure projects worth around £500 million over the next decade.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-agrees-support-package-to-uk-steel-company

What to do if you’re self-employed and getting less work or no work

Guidance for people who are self-employed and getting less work or no work because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Claim a grant if you’ve lost income

If you’re getting less work or no work because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you might be able to claim a grant through the coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

Other financial support

If you’re getting less work or no work because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can also:

You might also be able to get New Style Employment and Support Allowance if one of the following applies to you or your child, now or some time in the past:

  • you’re at high risk because you have an underlying health condition (shielding)
  • you’re self-isolating because you have symptoms of coronavirus
  • you’re self-isolating because you came into contact with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, or you were told to self-isolate by a test and trace service

Interviews and assessments will be done by telephone. You should not go to a Jobcentre Plus unless asked to do so for an exceptional purpose, for example to collect your Payment Exception Service vouchers.

Your Universal Credit payment is based on your actual earnings. You need to report any self-employed earnings and expenses at the end of each monthly assessment period.

Processing your application

Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), it might take longer than usual to process your application and answer questions about it. We apologise for these delays – we know this is a difficult time.

Advance payments

If you do not have enough money to live on while you wait for your first Universal Credit payment you can ask for an advance payment.

If you cannot make a Self Assessment payment on account

If you are due to make a Self Assessment payment on account by 31 July 2020, you can put off your payment until January 2021.

Looking for other work

Find full or part-time jobs in England, Scotland and Wales using the Find a job service. There is a different service to search for jobs in Northern Ireland.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-what-to-do-if-youre-self-employed-and-getting-less-work-or-no-work

The Department for International Trade launches modelling review to support economic recovery

To enhance its trade negotiation capability and support economic recovery DIT is launching a model review.

The Department for International Trade is reviewing its trade modelling to ensure that all of Britain’s new trade deals are specifically tailored to shape the country’s economy as it recovers from the impacts of Coronavirus.

Modelling trade is an important part of the Department for International Trade’s negotiation capability. Given the significant global impact of Coronavirus, it’s an appropriate time for DIT to review its trade models, as free trade agreements will play a crucial role in our economic recovery.

As part of its programme of continuous development, the department will consult with a panel of external experts and academics, led by Professor Tony Venables, BP Professor of Economics at Oxford University. The internal review will be led by DIT’s Chief Economist Richard Price, drawing on expertise from other Government departments, including the Treasury.

DIT’s modelling of new free trade agreements has won praise from leading commentators. The department is now reviewing its approach to take account of new techniques and insights to make sure it remains best in class. The external panel will support the development of cutting-edge models and analysis. It will also advise on a variety of issues, such as how best to incorporate wider global economic developments, how economies change with more innovation, investment and specialisation as trade increases, and how to best accommodate the impact of the Coronavirus crisis. The review will also help the department to draw on diverse thinking and expertise from across the world.

The UK has assembled a team of negotiators with a wide range of specialisations and international negotiating experience, including from the WTO and UN. DIT’s world-class analysts will be able to draw from the updated trade models and inform our negotiators on which areas would most benefit the UK economy. This will help them to secure benefits for every region and nation of the UK, as well as for small business and entrepreneurs who may have suffered during this difficult time.

Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary, said:

More trade is essential if the UK is to overcome the unprecedented economic challenge posed by Coronavirus.

The pandemic has given oxygen to the politics of protectionism across the globe, and to those who advocate closed, statist economies.

We will use our voice as a new independent trading nation to champion free trade, fight protectionism and remove barriers at every opportunity. This review will support our analysts, and their work supporting our trade negotiators as they seek to sign new free trade agreements.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-department-for-international-trade-launches-modelling-review-to-support-economic-recovery

Staying COVID-19 Secure in 2020 notice

Once you have carried out a risk assessment you should display the below notice in your workplace to show that you have complied with the guidance on managing the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).


02/07/2020

Flexible furlough scheme started

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has so far helped protect more than 9.3 million jobs through the pandemic, with employers claiming more than £25.5 billion to support wages.

The scheme will remain open until the end of October and will continue to support jobs and business in a measured way as people return to work, our economy reopens and the country moves to the next stage of its recovery.

From today, a month earlier than previously announced, employers will have the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis.

Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for them - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

Our number one priority has always been to protect jobs and businesses through this outbreak. The furlough scheme, which will have been open for eight months by October, has been a lifeline for millions of people and as our economy reopens we want that support to continue.

Giving firms the flexibility to bring back furloughed workers on a part-time basis will help them work gradually and help them plan for the months ahead.

From August, the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme will be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work. Businesses will be asked to contribute a modest share, but crucially individuals will continue to receive that 80% of salary covering the time they are unable to work.

More information about the changes can be found here.

The government has also announced that businesses who no longer need the CJRS grants they previously claimed have the option to voluntarily return them.

This is in direct response to employers asking how they can return grants voluntarily – and businesses are under no obligation to do this, but should contact HMRC if they want to pay the grant back.

Companies across the UK who are bringing back furloughed staff today include The Drury Tea and Coffee Company, and Yes Energy Solutions.

Marco Olmi, Managing Director of London-based international coffee wholesaler The Drury Tea and Coffee Company, said:

The ability to bring our staff out of furlough in a flexible manner will be enormously beneficial as the industry eases out of lockdown. Without this flexibility we would really struggle to cope as we endeavour to grow turnover back to something approaching normal levels whilst trying to keep a lid on short-term costs.

Duncan McCombie, CEO of Yes Energy Solutions, said:

The approach lets us to better manage a fluctuating workload, where those working are doing some additional hours. The flexibility will allow us all to better balance the pressure on those working, support childcare responsibilities and a ease in a return to work after 100 days for those furloughed. A great addition to the options available for business leaders.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/flexible-furlough-scheme-starts-today

Find examples to help you calculate your employees' wages

Check examples to help you calculate your employee's wages, National Insurance contributions and pension contributions if you're claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

More firms can now benefit from the Future Fund

More start-ups and innovative firms will be able to apply for investment from the government’s Future Fund from 30 June:

  • companies which have participated in accelerator programmes now eligible for the popular scheme
  • more than 320 early-stage, high-growth firms have so far benefitted from £320 million of support through the Fund
  • this surpasses the £250 million initial funding made available by the government

Changes to the scheme’s eligibility criteria will mean that UK companies who have participated in highly selective accelerator programmes and were required, as part of that programme, to have parent companies outside of the UK will now be able to apply for investment.

To date, more than 320 companies have benefitted from £320 million of Future Fund support. Under the scheme, early-stage, high-growth businesses from a diverse range of sectors can apply for a convertible loan of between £125,000 and £5 million to help them through the Coronavirus outbreak.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/more-firms-can-now-benefit-from-the-future-fund

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme – A Way for Small Businesses to Bounce Back?

The Coronavirus crisis has affected the majority of businesses across the UK, with small businesses in particular being hit the hardest. It is estimated that around two thirds of all small and medium sized businesses in the UK have been forced to temporarily cease trading during the crisis.

The Government has announced a range of measures to support small businesses through the crisis and help them get back on their feet; this includes the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) which became available in May.

What is the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS)?

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme was introduced to help small businesses manage their cash flow without overburdening them. The scheme provides small businesses with access to loans of up to £50,000 and the Government will guarantee 100% of the finance which covers both the loan and interest. In addition to this, there are a number of other key elements to be aware of:

  • Businesses can access from as little as £2,000 up to a maximum of £50,000. But the maximum value of the loan may not exceed 25% of the businesses’ turnover;
  • There are no fees or interest payable in the first 12 months – this is covered by the Government;
  • Interest is capped at 2.5%;
  • There is no requirement to make re-payments for the first 12 months; and
  • The loan term is for 6 years but can be repaid sooner without any penalties being applied.

Types of Businesses Eligible for the BBLS

In order to obtain funding, businesses should approach lenders taking part in the scheme, including all major UK banks. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is intended to be easier to access than the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan. In order to qualify for the BBLS, a business must:

  • Be UK-based and operating prior to 1 March 2020;
  • Have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic;
  • Not have been in difficulty at 31 December 2019;
  • Not be using the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (unless the BBLS will be sufficient to re-finance the whole of an existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan);
  • Not be bankrupt, in liquidation, or restructuring debts at the time of application;
  • Derive more than 50% of its income from its trading activity; and
  • Not be in a restricted sector (credit institutions, insurance companies, public-sector organisation and state-funded schools).

When applying for the BBLS, businesses will need to self-certify to the lender that they are eligible and they will be required to meet the above criteria. The lender will then make a decision on whether to offer finance.

An important difference to note between the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan and BBLS is the fact that the lenders are not permitted to take personal guarantees by way of security for the lending; this will protect the personal assets of business owners.

However, while the government will guarantee 100% of the finance, the business will remain liable for all of the debt and repayments. It is important that businesses considering applying for the BBLS keep this in mind and seek advice from their financial advisers.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-the-bounce-back-loan-scheme-a-way-for-small-businesses-to-bounce-back/


30/06/2020

Flexible Furlough

On Wednesday 1st July 2020, ‘Flexible Furlough’ commences. This is the governments version 2 of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

What is flexible furlough?

Flexible Furlough allows you to bring back some, or all, of your employees on a flexible, part-time basis. Any number of hours and shift patterns can be worked. There is no minimum amount of time that needs to be worked, nor is there a minimum furlough period as there was previously. This means that if there is work one week but not the next, then they could be placed back on full furlough for the week there is no work.

Who can be flexibly furloughed?

To be eligible for flexible furlough your employee will need to have been furloughed previously for a continuous 3 weeks period at any time between 1st March and 30th June 2020. Any future claims are capped and must not exceed the maximum number of employees claimed for in any pay period prior to 1st July.

If I don’t have any work for some, or all, of my employees, can I keep them furloughed?

Yes, you can continue to fully furlough any number of your team if that is what is necessary.

Do I need to get agreement from my employees to flexible furlough them?

Yes, you should write to anyone you intend to flexibly furlough and confirm the details within this letter. Best practice would be for you to get a signed agreement to confirm that they are happy to be entered on to the scheme. However, it is not obligatory.

What do I pay someone on flexible furlough?

An employer is expected to pay for actual hours worked at their normal contractual rate. You will be responsible for paying the NI and pension contribution for these hours. The remaining hours of someone’s ‘usual pay’ (including NI and pension contributions) will be able to be claimed for via the CJRS, at a rate of 80% of their normal salary up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month.

Do I need to keep a record of these hours?

Yes. Records need to be kept of:

  • Usual hours of work
  • Actual hours of work
  • Furloughed hours

These records need to be kept for 5 years.

Are there any changes to the claim period?

Claims for the period ending on or before 30th June (CJRS V1) need to be claimed by 31st July. Claims which crossover into both June to July should be claimed separately. Going forward, no claim period can extend across a calendar month end. All claims under CJRS V2 must be submitted by 30th November 2020.

When can claims be processed?

For those continuing to be fully furloughed, you can submit the claim at any time. However, for those on flexible furlough, you will need to wait until you know the exact number of hours worked in that pay period, or risk having to pay back part of the grant to HMRC. This may impact cash flow, so it is important to be aware of this and to make alternative provisions if necessary.

Any overpayments can be rectified in the following claim should it be required.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

Government unveils £200 million package to help innovative businesses bounce back

The Sustainable Innovation Fund will help companies recovering from the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive.

Innovative ideas and projects led by companies recovering from the impact of coronavirus will not be lost, thanks to a new £200 million fund launched today (Saturday 27 June).

The government’s Sustainable Innovation Fund will be open to companies across all parts of the UK who need urgent financial support to keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive.

Funding totalling almost £200 million could go towards developing new technologies focused on making homes and offices more energy efficient to cut bills, creating ground-breaking medical technologies to treat infections and diseases, or reducing the carbon footprint of public transport in our towns and cities.

In a move to support people across the country to establish more ‘climate-positive’ behaviours, businesses and start-ups could also make use of the fund to develop smart sustainability-focused projects – from apps encouraging people to cut down their food waste to sustainable biodegradable packaging.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund will help power the UK’s economic recovery and develop new sustainable opportunities for businesses in any sector following the coronavirus pandemic, while helping the UK meet its ambitions to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

Our country is home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge businesses that turn ingenious ideas into new technologies every day. That’s why we’re backing our innovators and risk-takers with new investment so they can recover and grow out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Today I am urging businesses in all parts of the UK to come forward and pitch their state-of-the-art ideas to us, so we can work together to power the UK’s economic recovery.

Kemi Badenoch, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

Our ability to innovate will be key to tackling this crisis, driving economic growth and supporting jobs.

This funding, on top of our existing support for innovation, will back businesses in a wide range of sectors including technology, health, transport and clean growth.

Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair, Innovate UK said:

Many businesses have successfully, and innovatively, responded to the challenges posed by the coronavirus. Organisations will recover from the pandemic, and as the situation stabilises, we will help businesses build an innovative economy that is viable and resilient. Today we issue the call for more innovators to put forward proposals to help the UK build a sustainable and productive future.

This funding, delivered through Innovate UK, forms part of a wider £750 million package of grants and loans announced in April to support innovative firms. This sits alongside the new £500 million Future Fund, which provides match-funding to private investors, and has already received over 500 applications since its launch on 20 May.

Businesses can apply for support through the Sustainable Innovation Fund by visiting the Innovate UK website from Monday 29 June.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-unveils-200-million-package-to-help-innovative-businesses-bounce-back

Covid-19: UK Businesses owed £133bn since lockdown

Nine in ten businesses are waiting to be paid an average of £148,917 for work done pre-lockdown, finds Market Finance, as business owners are urged to ‘look beyond their banks and seek advice’ to unlock potential economic solutions.

With £148,917 still owed to them since March 2020, the vast majority of businesses (81%) are also expecting to wait longer to be paid for the goods they provide and work they do from now on.

Half anticipate waiting anywhere between 14-30 days beyond normal terms (45 days). 

While 15% reported they could be waiting anywhere between three to six months longer to be paid for work.

Only 43% of businesses that applied for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) were successful in securing it. The typical loan taken by these businesses was £211,667, though they applied for almost double this amount.

Anil Stocker, CEO at MarketFinance, said: ‘The reopening of the UK’s high streets marked the first buoyant moment for UK businesses in months but it might well be the calm before the storm. 

‘Businesses are facing a three-pronged assault on their finances. First up, its alarming that only half of their CBILS loans are being granted, then we learn that they have close to £150k in outstanding payments since the lockdown began and now, it’s likely that they will have to wait twice as long to get paid for new work they do while demand and economic activity normalises.

‘This coupled with a very moderate outlook for trading conditions, “rent quarter day” this week and uncertainty about their workforce, no doubt this will put further pressure on businesses.’

Stocker added: ‘Given the continuing uncertainty around how the country returns to “business as usual”, I would urge business owners to look beyond their banks and seek advice as soon as from other lenders, business advisors and mentors.

‘The earlier they do this, the wider the range of potential solutions they’ll have open to them.’

Trading environment

As the lockdown has eased and shoppers return to the high streets, almost half (45%) of businesses are optimistic that there is pent up demand for their products and services which they are eager to serve.

This said, most businesses only expect a conservative 10% increase in sales over the next 3-4 months. While opinion is polarised on prospects; a fifth (19%) anticipate a 25-50% increase in sales while one in six (15%) expect a decrease in sales of more than 75%.

Longer term, business owners have revised down their expectations of when they anticipate things to return to normal. In March, the majority (56%) felt business would normalise by September 2020. However, now the majority (57%) feel it could take as long as 1-2 years and are planning for this.

Employment

Most businesses (45%) anticipate only returning up to half of their furloughed staff to work in July and a quarter are likely to be kept on furlough as part of the extended scheme as the economic picture and business climate plays out. The future remains less certain for the remaining quarter of furloughed staff, who could well be made redundant.

Office space 

Of those businesses that have a physical location (office, warehouse), over two thirds (68%) are negotiating rent / lease reductions with landlords while a third have decided to leave their premises entirely because working from home has proven successful.

Feeling in control

Having faced a number of external shocks as a result of the pandemic, 85% of business owners have felt out of control in their business over the past three months. Given the impact of Covid-19, the lockdown, recession fears and a no-deal Brexit 60% of business owners feel exposed to conditions beyond their control.

The research findings are based on a survey of 2,000 UK companies (who employ between 1 and 249 staff with a minimum turnover of £100,000) conducted 17-20 June 2020 by fintech business lender MarketFinance.

https://www.accountancydaily.co/covid-19-uk-businesses-owed-ps133bn-lockdown

Pay Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants back

The Government has provided guidance on how to pay all or some of your grant back if you've overclaimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

If you have overclaimed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, you can either:

  • correct it in your next claim
  • make a payment to HMRC (only if you are not making another claim)

What you will need:

  • You will need your 14- or 15-digit payment reference number that begins with X.
  • You must contact HMRC to get your payment reference number –

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/get-help-with-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

How to pay:

  • Bank details for online or telephone banking, CHAPS and Bacs
  • You can pay by Faster Payments, CHAPS or Bacs to HMRC’s account.
  • Sort code 08 32 10
  • Account number 12001039
  • Account name HMRC Cumbernauld

Payments by:

  • Faster Payments (online or telephone banking) usually reach HMRC on the same or next day, including weekends and bank holidays
  • CHAPS usually reach HMRC the same working day if you pay within your bank’s processing times
  • Bacs usually take 3 working days

Your payment may be delayed if you use the wrong reference number.

See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pay-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-grants-back

Government outlines support for pubs, cafes and restaurants

More pubs, restaurants and cafes will be able to serve customers outdoors in plans announced by the government today (25 June 2020).

The government will simplify and reduce the costs of the licensing process for outdoor seating and stalls, making it easier for people to safely drink and dine outside. 

Proposed planning freedoms will mean that outdoor markets, pop-up car-boot sales or summer fairs will not need a planning application, which will transform the way people shop and socialise.

Pubs and restaurants will be able to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas, using their existing seating licenses.

Temporary changes to licensing laws will allow many more licensed premises, such as pubs and restaurants, to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises. Customers will be able to buy their drinks from a pub and consume them elsewhere, making social distancing easier.

These measures will give an immediate and much needed boost to many businesses, whilst supporting them to successfully reopen over the summer.

This builds on support introduced in March allowing many food and drink business, including pubs, to offer a takeaway service. Additionally, these changes will support hospitality staff return to work safely, revive businesses and provide a real boost to high streets affected by the pandemic. 

This Bill is the next step to enable people to socialise this summer and enjoy the best of British hospitality in a COVID-secure way – helping businesses get back up and running and employees return to work.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

I know we all look forward to seeing our pubs, cafes and restaurants open their doors again and I’m determined to give them a helping hand to get back on their feet and their staff back to work safely.

That’s why we are introducing changes to make it quicker, easier and cheaper for them to set up outdoor seating and street stalls to serve food and drink.

Business Secretary Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP said: 

Our pubs, restaurants and cafes are the lifeblood of high streets and town centres across the country and we are doing all we can to ensure they can bounce back as quickly and safely as possible.

This week we gave our vital hospitality sector the green light to reopen from 4 July, and today we are introducing new legislation to enable businesses to make the most of the crucial summer months ahead.

Transport Secretary Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP said:

These measures will help create new summer streets and summer squares, providing people with ways to enjoy our high streets and hospitality sector safely. 

Alongside our recently announced £2 billion investment in cycling and walking, this shows a clear focus from the government on using pavements and open spaces to make sure people can get out and about, helping people remain safe while getting back to normal life.

Changes for the hospitality industry introduced by the government will:

  • reduce the consultation period for applications for pavement licences to from 28 calendar days to 5 working days, and grant consent after 10 working days if the council does not issue a decision
  • set a lower application fee for a pavement and street cafe licence of up to £100
  • remove the need for a planning application for outdoor markets and marquees, meaning they can be set up for longer
  • provide more freedoms for areas to hold car-boot sales and summer fairs

Councils will need to continue to ensure their communities are consulted on licensing applications, that waste is disposed of responsibly, and that access to pavements and pedestrianised areas is not compromised. 

Today’s announcement follows a new £50 million fund to support local high streets introduced last month and the government’s decision to extend the working hours of construction sites in order to get the country building again.

The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures in a move to kick-start local economies, get people back to work and customers back to the shops.

Further information

As we emerge from this pandemic, the government will do all it can to support our economic recovery, help businesses through the lockdown and get back to work safely. The Business and Planning Bill introduces a number of urgent measures to help businesses get back to work and succeed in these new and challenging circumstances, by removing short term obstacles that could get in their way.

The Bill will help businesses transition from immediate crisis response and lockdown, towards economic recovery. It will also help them implement new, safer ways of working to managing the ongoing risks from COVID-19 – in particular the need for social distancing. 

The alcohol provisions apply to England and Wales. Other measures apply to England only.

Off-sales, including home deliveries and takeaways, will be allowed in the hours that alcohol can already be sold for consumption on the premises. This automatic extension will eliminate the time and cost to businesses who may wish to apply for a variation of their licence. 

The new rules on selling alcohol for consumption off the premises do not apply to those who have had permission for this refused or taken away in the last 3 years.

Businesses should contact their local council to enquire about a licence for an outdoor stall. 

The government intends to introduce new laws giving people greater freedom over how they use their land by doubling the length of time that temporary structures can be placed on land without needing an application for planning permission.

For the current calendar year only, the time limits in the existing right for the temporary use of land will be doubled from 14 days to 28 days for holding a market or motor car and motorcycle racing, and from 28 days to 56 days for any other purpose. This makes it easier to host markets, stalls, marquees, car boot sales and summer fairs.

The government is removing the requirement for councils to get planning permission to set up new markets, supporting a revival of markets and helping to transform the way people shop and socialise.

The bill also seeks powers to enable DVSA to issue temporary MOT exemptions to certain Heavy Vehicles on the basis of road safety risk. This will ensure vehicles with the highest road safety risk will be tested first, once testing resumes, helping ensure we keep our roads as safe as possible while testing demand needs to be managed.

The government is making temporary provisions for bus and lorry drivers aged 45 and over to forego the need for a D4 medical in order to renew their driving entitlement. These changes are temporary and will only apply where the licence has not expired before 1 January 2020. This provision is already in place, and the legislation will retrospectively formalise the process.

The Bill includes provisions to allow the effective delivery of the Bounce Back Loans Scheme, which will allow it to operate effectively and for loans to quickly reach small businesses.

The £50 million Re-Opening High Streets Fund is supported by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-outlines-support-for-pubs-cafes-and-restaurants

Major changes to insolvency law come into force

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act has received Royal Assent and came into force on 26 June 2020. The Act is the largest change to the UK’s corporate insolvency regime in more than 20 years. It introduces new corporate restructuring tools and temporary easements to give distressed businesses the breathing space they need to get advice and seek a rescue.

One of its key provisions is the introduction of the new role of a Monitor to oversee the corporate moratorium it introduces – an extendable 20 working day period giving businesses protection from creditor action while they seek professional restructuring advice. A monitor must be a licenced insolvency practitioner and the Insolvency Service has provided guidance on their role and responsibilities. The Act also extends the suspension of termination clauses when a company enters into an insolvency procedure and introduces a new restructuring plan that has the ability to bind creditors to it.

The Act also provides temporary relief until 30 September 2020 from being subject to a winding up petition and from wrongful trading provisions where a business can demonstrate its difficulties arise from trading conditions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. These easements are explained in more detail in a series of factsheets.

Changes to company filing and meeting requirements have also been introduced to relieve the burden on businesses during the pandemic and allow them to focus all their efforts on continuing to operate.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-changes-to-insolvency-law-come-into-force

Mandatory MOT testing to be reintroduced from 1 August

Mandatory MOT testing is to be reintroduced from 1 August 2020 as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted, Roads minister Baroness Vere has announced today (29 June 2020).

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, drivers were granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing in March to help slow the spread of the virus. However, as restrictions are eased when safe to do so, all drivers whose car, motorcycle or van is due for an MOT test from 1 August will be required to get a test certificate to continue driving their vehicle.

MOT tests are important for road safety and ensure that vehicle parts, including tyres, seatbelts, brakes, lights and exhausts, are in proper working order.

Drivers with an MOT due date before 1 August will still receive a 6-month exemption from testing. However, all vehicles must continue to be properly maintained and kept in a roadworthy condition, and people are able to voluntarily get their MOT sooner should they wish, even if they are exempt from the legal requirement. Motorists can be prosecuted for driving an unsafe vehicle.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said:

As people return to our roads, it is vital that motorists are able to keep their vehicles safe. That’s why as restrictions are eased, from 1 August MOT testing will again become mandatory.

Garages across the country are open and I urge drivers who are due for their MOT to book a test as soon they can.

Only some garages remained open to conduct essential services during the coronavirus outbreak, but now over 90% are open across the country. Testing capacity has already reached 70% of normal levels and is steadily increasing.

While exemptions are still available for vehicle owners with an MOT due date before 1 August, it is vital that drivers still take their vehicle to be checked if they notice something is wrong in the same way that they usually would.

If drivers are vulnerable or self-isolating they should contact their local garage as many are offering pick-up and drop-off services, so drivers can get their car checked without having to visit a garage.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has also issued guidance to all MOT testers about safely conducting tests in line with the latest government advice.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mandatory-mot-testing-to-be-reintroduced-from-1-august


25/06/2020

Managing the impact of COVID-19 on your supply chains

After the immediate effects of the coronavirus on our health and healthcare, the economic effects become apparent. The pandemic takes its toll on global supply chains and international production networks. Particularly the drop in import from China has and will continue to have a substantial impact on businesses worldwide. How can you decrease the risk for your supply chain, now and in the future?

Traditionally, global supply chain management has been designed to deliver just-in-time and to optimize for cost reductions. The impact of COVID-19 forces the need to change focus on risk reductions as well. Mitigating the effects on supply chains now will also help build resilience against future results and build less reliance on single suppliers. Both short term and long term strategies are needed to build resilience against further impact.

Short term strategies

  • Create a transparent and visible supply chain. Which parts are critical components? Where are they manufactured? And which alternative sources are available? An alternative may include near-shore options to shorten the chain.
  • Investigate the complexity of your supply chain. Who supplies your suppliers? How many links do your components have to pass through before they become a final product? Can that number of links be reduced?
  • Evaluate the existing inventory in the complete supply chain. What inventory does your business need to keep production running for a longer period of time? To secure the supply of critical components, consider hiring two or multiple suppliers. Having contact with multiple points of supply can ensure greater protection against uncertainties as well as boost comparative and competitive advantage in times of long term instability. Additionally, an inventory buffer for an extended period of time decreases the vulnerability to supply chain shortages.
  • Determine realistic customer demands for the upcoming months, also involving time periods with possible shortages of buying behaviour.
  • Embrace new technologies that can help shorten your line of supply. Can you manufacture more of your components locally? Can automation help reinforce your production against instability in the workforce as a result of another pandemic or an event with similar consequences?

Geographically separating suppliers introduces redundancy in times of governmental or productive stress, allowing for less reliance on one region

Long term strategies

  • Understand where supply chain shortages will have a (huge) financial impact. What do (legal) contracts with distributors say about delivery shortages? Will the customers demand decrease due to shortages?
  • Create a supply chain continuity plan. What should your business do in case of shortages? This must include back-up plans with second sources. Scenario-planning techniques can help your business to plan for the impact on each of the shapes of economic recession.
  • Be aware of how spread out your supply chain is geographically. Try to avoid having many links of your supply chain in one location because this can introduce risk. Spreading out the line of supply adds a level of defence against suppliers being unable to provide components due to changes in local policy or in times of stress, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Be cautious of critical dependencies. If your supplier of a critical component can no longer provide, can you find other ways to continue production? Can you reconstruct your supply chain to have critical dependencies more readily available?

Four drivers of supply chain vulnerabilities

  1. Supplier network – how easily is the supply chain disrupted? What are the most vulnerable parts? 
  2. Financial – how much financial flexibility does your business have for increased supply costs?
  3. Transportation – how resilient is the transportation of supplies to your plants?
  4. Critical elements – are these critical elements easy to substitute? Is it possible to change the design of your product?

More advice

Get in touch with our expert business advisors for more advice on managing the impact of COVID-19 on your supply chains.

Mind matters: mental health for small business owners

Running a small business is stressful. Managing cashflow, customers and commercial partners can increase anxiety, which if unchecked, can become a more chronic mental health condition. And with the current Covid-19 crisis placing even more uncertainty on the shoulders of owner-managers, paying attention to your overall mental health is now more critical than ever.

In 2018, NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards conducted its Mental Health in Entrepreneurship survey concluding that over half (58%) of respondents experienced some form of mental health condition. Stress was by far the most debilitating condition (41%) with anxiety (21%) and depression (19%) also being cited by respondents to the survey.

“Everyone is very unclear of what the business world will look like at the end of the COVID-19 crisis,” says Alison McDowall, the co-founder of The Positive Planner “This in itself is anxiety-inducing. It is an uncertain time to be a business owner; many people are working long irregular hours to try and accommodate other factors of life that have collided with our work.

Alison continued: “This pressure of the unknown is a genuine factor in our mental health, that coupled with some owners taking on roles of others in their team that they have had to furlough, means the workload has grown significantly along with the amount of stress. Mental and emotional wellbeing tends to be affected quite a lot in times of worry and intense working hours, that's why we suggest implementing healthy 'mental fitness' activities to help you be more resilient in your home life and your business.”

Some level of stress and anxiety is inevitable for all small business owners. How you identify, manage and treat any changes to your mental state are critical to understanding. Those business owners who pay attention to how they are feeling and, take practical action, will be able to weather the storm and remain strong successfully – meeting each challenge as they present themselves.

Paying attention

We spoke with Daryl Woodhouse, mental fitness and productivity coach who has just launched a new app to help business owners improve their work-life balance, reduce stress and boost productivity at work.

Why do small business owners often ignore their mental health?

“Small business owners are usually spinning multiple plates, dealing with the day-to-day running of their business alongside aspects like marketing, HR, finance,” Daryl explained. “They may be experienced at all of these things, but the sheer amount of work they have to undertake means they prioritise what they believe to be most important.

“Sadly, their own mental health often comes at the bottom of the list of priorities. What I try and encourage business owners to realise is that their own mental health needs to become before anything. When they are mentally fit, they are fit to tackle the many challenges of business life and, they will be more productive.”

Has the current Covid-19 crisis just placed more pressure on the mental health of small business owners?

“Before the pandemic, one in four of us were predicted to suffer a mental health issue over the next 12 months. Post coronavirus, even more of us will experience mental health issues. Small business owners are particularly at risk as they struggle to deal with the day-to-day financial pressures of keeping their business afloat and the associated mental, emotional and physical strain this brings.

“From considering the needs of their employees to those of their customers, devising new strategies for their business to adapt to the pandemic and financial planning, small businesses may be feeling overwhelmed and finding that their mental fitness to effectively manage these issues is impaired.”

As many small business owners work alone, how can this environment potentially lead to mental health issues?

“The danger to mental health for small business owners who work alone could be that they isolate themselves from others, don't have an appropriate outlet to discuss concerns and worries, and develop habits that are not conducive to mental fitness, such as poor boundaries between work and home.

“All business owners can be at risk of this because most wouldn't, rightly, take all of their concerns and worries to their employees. It’s often about finding that suitable outlet to talk about concerns out of work, whether to a therapist, a good friend or loved one.”

What is your essential advice to small business owner/managers to look after their mental health?

“One of the keys to mental fitness is regular, bite-sized doses of those activities that help you to relax, working towards the best version of ourselves. For me, and for many, this means exercise, eating well, a good sleep routine and prioritising time with family and friends. It also means being kind to yourself and, recognising the signs that show you are working too hard, not taking on too much work and finding a network of other professionals you can utilise in your small business to help to lighten the load.”

All business owners have a level of anxiety. How important is it to realise when anxiety is becoming a potentially chronic mental health issue?

“This is something that I have personal experience. My career in corporate leadership and talent development led me to start my first business in 2012, Advantage Business Partnerships. I pushed myself to such an extreme that I suffered a major burnout. I knew at the time that I was pushing myself too much and not looking after my mental, emotional and physical health yet my desire to grow the company overrode this.

“The burnout was the wake-up call I needed to make changes in my life and change my focus to helping others with their mental fitness. I’d say to anyone who is reading this to read the signs; listen to your body if it’s telling you it’s tired, listen to your brain if you’re finding it hard to focus, listen to your emotions if the stresses of running a business are getting you down.”

Are there any tools that small business owners can use to keep an eye on their mental health?

“The biggest and best tool for me is a routine because the daily acts of looking after your mental fitness become ingrained into positive behaviours that will assist you in your business life, and your personal life too, and it’s easy to notice when you skip them. Make that commitment to your daily 15- minute run or yoga session on rising, to stopping for 20 minutes for a healthy lunch, to eating dinner with your family each weeknight. Tick each one off mentally and know you are doing the right thing for your mental fitness.”

Taking action

Small business owners have to wear many hats. The uncertain trading environment they also now find themselves within has amplified their potential risk of developing a range of mental issues. However, deteriorating mental health is not inevitable. You can remain fit and healthy by paying close attention to your mental state and, watching for the warning signs you are under too much pressure.

The Positive Planner’s Alison McDowall notes: “Self-care can be seen as selfish or time-consuming, but it's an act of generosity to yourself and your business. Different things bring different people joy. Plan in these moments of joy to help you reset your mind. You will be more productive in the long run if you allow yourself this time.”

Alison concluded: “Mindfulness definitely has a place in your working day, even three mindful breaths can help you get into the right state. Find an app or online meditation you can do once at your desk to help you find these moments of calm. When we feel in fight or flight mode all the time, we can make knee jerk business decisions and not work at our optimum performance which is no good for anyone.”

Looking after your mental health is now more imperative than it has ever been. Small business owners, in particular, are more at risk than any other group. Paying attention to the warning signs and then taking practical action, is the key to ensuring you and your business stay healthy.

Further information

  • The Federation of Small Businesses has a range of guides and other materials to help business owners manage their own and their employees’ mental health.
  • Mind has developed WAPs (Wellness Action Plans), which all small business owners can use to support their mental health.
  • The Leapers Working Well Calm Edition is a free downloadable guide with insights on how best to look after your mental health while running your business and coping with the Covid-19 crisis.

https://app.croneri.co.uk/feature-articles/mind-matters-mental-health-small-business-owners?product=136&topic=4976

Sending your forms to Companies House during the coronavirus outbreak

As an emergency response to coronavirus (COVID-19), Companies House have developed a temporary online service to upload a number of completed forms and send them to Companies House digitally.

Read below the latest release from Companies House regarding sending forms:

At Companies House, our priority is to protect the welfare of our employees during the coronavirus outbreak. We may not be able to process paper documents as quickly as we have done previously.

As part of our response to coronavirus, we’re currently working new ways to allow our users to file documents with us. We’ve introduced a temporary service to Upload a document to Companies House during the coronavirus outbreak.

Read the guidance to find out which documents you can upload using our upload service.

We’re continually working to improve the service. As this service is updated, it will include more document types and features such as acknowledgments and payments.

This service will not be available for Companies House documents you can already send to us online.

You must use our existing online services to:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sending-your-forms-to-companies-house-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak


23/06/2020

Why marketing and advertising can help you grow during a crisis

What can you do as a business owner or manager to grow your company during a crisis, and in the aftermath of such a difficult period? Well, the answer is simple: keep focusing on marketing and advertising. Here’s why.

In times of crisis, most companies tend to drastically cut down on marketing and advertising expenses. For instance, during the economic recession of 2008, the amount of money spent on (online) advertising dropped 13% on average, according to Forbes. Exactly the same is happening now, creating (growth) opportunities for companies that haven’t reduced their marketing budget.

Snowball

First of all: when other companies stop advertising, there is more room for the success of your ads. In addition, advertising is more affordable because the demand is lower, giving you the opportunity to cheaply strengthen your market position and/or introduce a new product, service or feature.

Henry Ford once said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

In other words: advertising is an integral part of a successful business.

Secondly, when competitors cut down on marketing expenses, they become less visible or even invisible in the market, resulting in a snowball of adverse effects. Starting with the loss of brand awareness, followed by losing that top-of-mind position in the (potential) customer’s head and ending with a lack of new orders. So, by staying focused on marketing and advertising and applying the right brand and marketing strategy, you can land those orders.

Lastly, with marketing, you can also demonstrate your company’s stability and reliability and prove that you’re that brand (potential) customers can build on, even during a crisis.

Example

Less burgers, more pizzas and tacos

During the economic recession of 1990/1991, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell benefited from McDonald’s decision to advertise less. Pizza Hut saw sales grow 61%, Taco Bell grew 40% and McDonald’s lost 27%.

Conclusion

Bringing marketing and advertising to a halt during, and in the aftermath of a crisis, is something you shouldn’t consider as a company – only if there is no other option.

New plans to get Britain building in coronavirus recovery

New measures to help the construction industry boost building and return to work safely will be introduced this week, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP announced today (22 June 2020).

Planning permission deadlines will be extended, planning appeals will be sped up and builders will be allowed more flexible working hours following agreement with their local council. 

Planning permission usually expires after three years if work has not started onsite. Sites with consent that have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will now see their consent extended to 1 April 2021. This will prevent work that has been temporarily disrupted by the pandemic from stopping altogether.

The government estimates that by the end of this month alone, more than 400 residential permissions providing more than 24,000 new homes would have expired. The new measures will help these developments and more resume as the economy recovers.

New measures will also permanently grant the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) the ability to use more than one procedure - written representations, hearings and inquiries - at the same time when dealing with a planning appeal, enabling appeals to happen much faster. 

Last year a pilot programme tested this approach and implemented recommendations of the Rosewell Review, which more than halved the time taken for appeal inquiries, from 47 weeks to 23 weeks. 

This will also help builders to quickly agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local council for a temporary period. This will make it easier to follow public health guidance onsite and by staggering builders’ arrival times, public transport will be less busy and the risk of infection will be reduced. 

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

Building the homes the country needs is central to the mission of this government and is an important part of our plans to recover from the impact of the coronavirus.

New laws will enable us to speed up the pace of planning appeals and save hundreds of construction sites from being cancelled before they have a chance to get spades in the ground, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and create many others.

Taken together, these measures will help to keep workers safe and our economy moving as we work together to bounce back from the pandemic.

Today’s announcement builds on measures to support the economy and protect the capacity of the construction sector, including:  

  • Introducing more than £330 billion of loans and guarantees to help firms continue operating
  • Deferring self-assessment payments until 2021 – crucial for a sector in which many are self-employed
  • Providing households across the country with reassurance such as 3-month mortgage holidays, including for landlords, alongside a ban on tenant evictions which has been extended to 5 months 
  • Safely reopening the housing market, helping estate agents, conveyancers, removals firms and the wider construction and property industry to return to work while following social distancing guidelines
  • Launching a Charter with the Home Builders Federation, helping construction sites reopen in line with health and safety guidance

The government continues to listen to all parts of industry to see what further support may be required.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-plans-to-get-britain-building-in-coronavirus-recovery

Download a template if you're claiming for 100 or more employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Complete a template with the details of the employees you're claiming for and upload this when you claim (for claims on or after 1 July 2020).

Details

If you’re claiming on or after 1 July 2020 for 100 or more employees, you’ll need to upload a file containing each of the employee’s:

  • full name
  • National Insurance number (or payroll reference number if you do not have this)
  • payroll reference number (sometimes called a pay identify or staff number)
  • furlough start and end date (using the format DD/MM/YYYY)
  • full amount claimed (pounds and pence)
  • normal hours (using decimals, for example 7.5)
  • actual hours worked (using decimals)
  • furloughed hours (using decimals)

You’ll need to ensure that you:

  • provide only the employee information requested here - you might be asked again
  • submit one line per employee for the whole period
  • do not break up the calculation into multiple periods within the claim
  • do not split data by contract type (for example, those paid weekly and monthly should be claimed for together)
  • upload your file as an .xls, .xlsx, .csv or .ods using the templates on this page when you claim

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/download-a-template-if-youre-claiming-for-100-or-more-employees-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Government provides further halt to business evictions and more support for high street firms

The UK government has extended measures to prevent struggling companies from eviction over the summer.

The extension, until the end of September, comes alongside further support to help local businesses plan for economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

A new code of practice has been developed with leaders from the retail, hospitality and property sectors to provide clarity for businesses when discussing rental payments and to encourage best practice so that all parties are supported.

These interventions are in addition to the comprehensive financial package provided by the UK government to businesses during this difficult time and is in recognition of the strain that the sector is currently under.

The code is voluntary for businesses and is relevant to all commercial leases held by businesses in any sector which have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

It encourages tenants to continue to pay their rent in full if they are in a position to do so and advises that others should pay what they can, whilst acknowledging that landlords should provide support to businesses if they too are able to do so.

The suspension of the forfeiture of evictions will come as a relief in particular to pubs, cafes and restaurants, after the hospitality sector called upon the government for action in this area.

Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

As our high streets come to life and our town centres open for business, it is crucial that both landlords and tenants have clarity and reassurance as they seek to keep their finances stable and bounce back.

That is why we are extending measures to protect those who are unable to pay rent from eviction so that businesses have the security they need to plan for their futures.

And in recognition of the strain that the virus has had on our high streets, our new code, backed by leaders across the industry, will help unlock conversations on rent and future payments whilst ensuring best practice is displayed across the board as we confront the challenges of this pandemic.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma MP said:

From clothes stores to our local book shop, we want as many high street businesses as possible to emerge from the pandemic, in the best position to bounce back.

During this particularly challenging time for businesses, our retail stores are safely welcoming shoppers back and taking the necessary steps to drive economic recovery.

By putting a stop to unreasonable evictions, these measures will protect jobs and provide further flexibility to our high street businesses that were trading successfully before the COVID-19 emergency, so they can focus on continuing to deliver for their customers and communities.

Across the UK, the code will encourage tenants and landlords to be transparent in their discussions and to act reasonably and responsibly whilst recognising the impact that coronavirus has had on businesses’ finances. 

The UK government has confirmed the following changes to the existing package of measures for the commercial sector:

  • We will lay a statutory instrument to amend the Coronavirus Act to extend the time period for suspension of the forfeiture of evictions from June 30 to September 30, meaning no business will be forced out of their premises if they a miss a payment in the next three months.
  • We will also lay secondary legislation to prevent landlords using Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery unless they are owed 189 days of unpaid rent. The time period for which this measure is in force will be extended from June 30 to September 30. 
  • An amendment to the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill has been tabled which will extend the temporary ban on the use of statutory demands and winding-up petitions where a company cannot pay its bills due to coronavirus until 30 September.

UK Finance has also confirmed its members’ continued support for commercial landlord customers including amendments to facilities and capital payment holidays.

The UK government’s financial package of measures to support businesses during the economic emergency includes:

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where small and large employers can apply for a government grant of 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be backdated to 1 March 2020 and available for at least 3 months, with first grants to be paid within weeks.
  • Deferral of the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June - representing a £30 billion injection into the economy.
  • £330 billion worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses. 
  • A Bounce Back Loans scheme, providing loans of up to £50,000 to benefit small businesses with a 100% government-backed guarantee for lenders. These loans will be interest free for the first 12 months and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form. 
  • A Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to help eligible freelance workers receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least 3 months.

Further information

View the code of practice.

It was developed and coordinated by the UK government alongside a working group of the following, who have all endorsed the code; British Chambers of Commerce, British Property Federation, British Retail Consortium, the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council, Revo, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and UKHospitality.

The working group was also supported by Trowers & Hamlins LLP who provided expert legal advice during the code’s development.

To date, a number of other organisations have also endorsed the code including; Agricultural Law Association; Association of Convenience Stores; British Beer and Pubs Association, British Independent Retailers Association, Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, Country Land Association, Federation of Small Businesses, Property Owners Forum, Scottish Property Federation, Tenant Farmers Association and Tenant Farmers Association Cymru, UKActive and UK Major Ports Group.

Stakeholder commentary

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy, British Chambers of Commerce said:

The pandemic has created severe cashflow problems for many SMEs, who will need time to rebuild and recover.  This code will help landlords and tenants to work together constructively to find solutions that keep businesses open and people in work.

Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation said:

The majority of property owners and occupiers are already working well together, creating shared solutions to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on their businesses. The code of practice published today builds on the many examples of good practice and reinforces the importance of constructive collaboration – not only over the next few months and once the government’s temporary legislative interventions come to an end later this year, but for the long term. 

The success of landlords and tenants working together as economic partners is vital to the UK’s recovery and to help ensure that viable businesses in distress as a result of coronavirus are supported, to protect both people’s jobs and the local authorities, savers and pensioners who own the majority of our town centres.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium said:

The ongoing pandemic presents an enormous threat to the survival of thousands of retailers, and the millions of jobs they support. The necessary closure of most shops during lockdown has created a gaping hole in many retailers’ finances. This has been exacerbated by continued rent demands on stores around the country, even where most have been closed for business. A solution is needed. 

This code is a first step toward improving the dialogue between retailers and their landlords. An extension to tenant protections against aggressive behaviour from some landlords is essential to underpin it, and we warmly welcome the government’s commitment to this. 

However, all parties should recognise that the code does not provide a solution for those retailers who are simply unable to pay what is being demanded, and we now look forward to continuing our constructive dialogue with government and other parts of the property sector to address these unpayable rents. Without further action, both retailers and landlords remain in a precarious situation that could lead to substantial numbers of redundancies as soon as tenant protections expire.

Peter Cosmetatos, Chief Executive, Commercial Real Estate Finance Council said:

Commercial real estate investment and finance markets are a complex, interconnected ecosystem; the pandemic-related stress affecting so many rent-paying businesses also threatens their landlords, and their investors and their lenders, with potential implications for economic recovery.  

This code cannot magically plug revenue holes, but it sends a strong signal that good faith engagement and financial transparency are essential if commercial tenants and landlords are to find their way through this crisis.

Vivienne King, Chief Executive, Revo said:

Revo is pleased to support the government code of practice, which offers guidance to property owners and occupiers in navigating temporary rent arrangements through the pandemic, whilst underwriting the sanctity of existing contractual terms. 

There are many cases of owners and occupiers collaboration in managing loss of income, which the code of practice reflects and we will continue to support government in identifying the potential measures to address this loss of income, which not only impacts owners and occupiers, but the wider economy including the savers and pensioners who depend upon it.

Paul Bagust, Global Property Standards Director, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said:

We are pleased to have helped government in shaping this code which will increase constructive engagement and transparency between landlords and tenants at this challenging time. We believe it will provide a basis for negotiated measures which recognise the mutual importance and interdependence of landlords and tenants in contributing to the economy.

Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKHospitality said:

The near-total wipeout of income from the hospitality sector has left it unable to meet its rent obligations. This code goes some way to bringing together landlord and tenant in the pursuit of a negotiated solution to allow hospitality businesses to move on and revert to the new normal, but this must be recognised as a first step that needs to be built on by all parties.

We remain of the view that further time and support is needed to facilitate a recovery for the hospitality sector, that is at the heart of our social lives and communities. The extension of the moratorium on aggressive enforcement and forfeiture is a welcome measure to allow this process to take place.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-provides-further-halt-to-business-evictions-and-more-support-for-high-street-firms

Home office workers risk expense claims tax trap

With more of us working from home than ever before, HMRC has reportedly seen the number of claims for home office expenses by employees significantly increase. But if home workers are not careful, they could be walking into a tax trap and hit with an unexpected bill later down the road.

As a nation of home workers suffer with bad backs from sitting at kitchen tables, many will be dreaming about how to improve their existing home office set up and estate agents might also expect a separate study to become part of their clients’ list of non-negotiables.

According to the latest ‘Opinions and Lifestyle Survey’ undertaken by the Office of National Statistics, the number of people working from home currently stands at 39% of all working adults, compared to 12% last year, with a third of us working solely from home at the moment.

Expenses at home

With that comes more expenditure at home on costs such as electricity and heating. Employers can provide their employees with a tax-free allowance of £6 a week (an increase from £4 a week in April 2020) under s316A Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (ITEPA 2003). If this flat-rate amount is paid, then no records need to be kept or provided by the employee.

If an employer does not provide this allowance, then relief can be claimed directly by the employee from HMRC under s336 ITEPA 2003. Such claims can be made on an individual’s tax return or online via a form P87 for relief in respect of these costs.

The approach has been made simpler recently with HMRC clarifying its recently updated guidance at Employment Income Manual (EIM) 32815, which says: ‘For ease of administration, from 6 April 2020 [Inspectors] may accept that employees who satisfy the conditions for relief (see EIM32760) are entitled to a deduction of £6 per week, or £26 per month for monthly paid employees, (exclusive of the cost of business telephone calls) for each week that they are required to work at home, without having to justify that figure.’

Claims under s316A and s336 can be made for expenses higher than £6 a week but evidence will need to be provided to support them.

Similarly, there is scope for the self employed and potentially those operating through companies to claim similar reliefs for home-office costs. HMRC’s guidance for the self employed and their home office expenditure can be found in its Business Income Manual (BIM) 47815.

Those operating through companies sometimes seek to achieve a similar result by charging their company rent for use of the office. That path is less well-trodden and requires more careful planning if it is to be considered acceptable by HMRC, eg a formal rental agreement on fair market terms. Otherwise, the rental payments from the company run the risk of simply being treated like salary and subject to PAYE and NIC.

Home office tax trap

So, there are various routes for relief for extra home office costs. What is less well known, however, is that such claims could lead to awkward questions from HMRC in the future when the house is sold and could prove very costly.

Ordinarily, when an individual sells their main home, this benefits from relief from capital gains tax (‘CGT’) and no tax is due to HMRC. This is the case even if the property has risen quite significantly in value under the principal private residence relief rules.

However, this relief can be restricted and some of the increased value of an individual’s home can be taxable where a particular room in the house is designated solely for business use and is not used personally in any way (under s224(1) TCGA 1992).

This should be considered in any future plans for a dream study and the problem can be avoided if it can be shown that the room has a dual purpose.

If the intention is to have a more dedicated office space in the future, it might make sense to earmark the room for business use for certain hours of the day (e.g. your typical 9am to 5pm) and have it available as a family room outside of those hours.

That could be reflected in any claims made for expenses. For example, if the room is used for 10 hours a day in total, a claim for expenses might be restricted to seven hours out of that 10-hour period. Similarly, any rental agreements with companies might include terms that the office is only available for business use during certain working hours.

Something as simple as having an exercise bike or a sofa bed in the room could potentially save a home worker thousands of pounds in the future. Making the home office room available for use as a study for the whole family could also suffice.

It might be a refuge from the hustle and bustle of family life during the day but freeing it up for homework in the evenings and weekends, if possible, can make sense financially in the longer term.

So, for those watching the news and admiring the interviewee’s home office set up, bear in mind that they might ultimately be worse off for it. The multipurpose box room might have its own benefits after all.

https://www.accountancydaily.co/home-office-workers-risk-expense-claims-tax-trap

Self-employed new parents can claim support grant

Self-employed parents whose trading profits dipped in 2018/19 because they took time out to have children will be able to claim for a payment under the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS), the government has announced.

The scheme requires claimants to have traded in 2018/19 with their profits making up at least half of their total income. They must also have submitted a self-assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for the 2018/19 tax year.

The Treasury has now said that parents, including mothers, fathers and those who have adopted, who took time out of trading to care for their children within the first 12 months of birth of the child or within 12 months of an adoption placement, will now be able to use either their 2017-18 or both their 2016-17 and 2017-18 self-assessment returns as the basis for their eligibility for the SEISS.

They will also need to meet the other standard eligibility criteria for support under the SEISS. Further details of the change for self employed parents will be set out by the start of July in published guidance.

The SEISS, which has so far had 2.6m claims, was extended last month, with those eligible able to claim a second, final grant in August, as well as being able to receive the first.

https://www.accountancydaily.co/covid-19-self-employed-new-parents-can-claim-support-grant

Insolvency: changes offer options after lockdown

The economic impact of the unprecedented times we are living in has resulted in businesses in all sectors facing potential risks to the bottom line. However, government-led initiatives and changes to law on corporate insolvency and governance have provided a much-needed lifeline for businesses to survive and thrive in the future.

One of the biggest changes announced is the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill, which was introduced on 20 May 2020. This is a welcome development that will deliver a number of changes to UK company law, enabling businesses undergoing a restructuring and rescue process to continue trading.

There are a number of temporary and permanent provisions in the Bill to assist companies through the Covid-19 crisis. However, some of these proposals have been in consultation for some time, originally outlined in a March 2018 consultation, albeit with some significant changes. These reforms also reflect a number of provisions contained in a European Commission Directive from November 2016.

Under this Directive, the Commission proposed that the insolvency legislation of each EU member state include three key elements set out in the government’s proposals: a moratorium, a prohibition on ‘ipso facto’ clauses and the ability to confirm a restructuring plan if it complies with the cross-class cram-down requirements (an involuntary imposition by a court of a reorganisation plan over the objection of some classes of creditors).

The Bill contains a number of temporary changes to prevent winding up petitions and statutory demands, together with the temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions until 30 June 2020 at the earliest, allowing directors to continue trading without the threat of personal liability. In addition, the Bill will ease regulatory requirements enabling companies to delay annual general meetings until late September 2020 or hold ‘closed AGMs’ online.

Company moratorium

Of the three permanent changes to the insolvency regime, the most impactful is the introduction of a ‘company moratorium’. This provision will give distressed companies which are viable 20 business days, extendable to 40 or longer by agreement, to pursue a rescue plan.

To qualify for the moratorium, a company must be unable to pay its debts and it is likely that a moratorium would result in a rescue of the business as a going concern.

The exit from the moratorium may be achieved in a number of ways including a rescue, sale, refinance, company voluntary arrangement (CVA), scheme of arrangement or restructuring plan.

While the company remains under the control of its directors throughout the moratorium, it is envisaged the appointed ‘monitor’, who must be a licensed insolvency practitioner, will be comfortable that a rescue is achievable and then monitor the process throughout.

This means that the company has protection and the creditors are unable to commence legal action via winding up petitions or by other enforcement avenues available to them.

Safeguarding supplies

The second new provision in the Bill is a change to existing supplier contracts so that termination clauses do not trigger, and supply issues or price increases cannot be implemented. This will mean that contracted suppliers will have to continue to supply companies despite the pre-insolvency arrears, unless they can demonstrate ‘hardship’ as a result.

Pursuing a restructure

The third key element of the Bill will enable companies in financial difficulty, or their creditors, to form a ‘restructuring plan’. Although similar to a scheme of arrangement, the major difference is that it can impose the restructure on any dissenting creditors, be it secured or unsecured, who voted to reject it.

But these dissenting creditors cannot be put into a worse position than what the court considers would have been the most likely outcome if the plan was rejected.

These changes enable businesses to continue trading even if they are undergoing a rescue or restructure process and should therefore be welcomed. This means that businesses can avoid insolvency, preserve employment and potential enterprise value.

However, as a new legal framework, there is still uncertainty on some of the finer details and practical implications.

There is now a challenge of how fast these changes can be made. With parliament now sitting, this significant support for the UK economy is being fast tracked with the aim to enact the Bill by June at the earliest.

However, this may not mark the end of the reforms to the existing legal framework and we could potentially see a flattening out of the global insolvency framework, moving to a more level, fairer playing field. In doing so, the international business community and the small to mid-sized enterprises they support will be better placed to restart and return to trading.

https://www.accountancydaily.co/insolvency-changes-offer-options-after-lockdown


18/06/2020

Businesses need to reinstate VAT direct debits

The deferral of VAT payments due to coronavirus comes to an end on 30 June and businesses need to take action to reinstate their direct debit mandates.

The Institute of Chartered accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Tax Faculty has reminded its members.

The VAT payment deferral means that all UK VAT-registered businesses have the option to defer VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020 until 31 March 2021.

However, ICAEW is reminding businesses that they need to take steps to reinstate their direct debit mandates so that they are in place in time for payments due in July 2020 onwards. Any outstanding returns should be filed, and three working days should be allowed to elapse before reinstating the direct debit mandate.

HMRC will issue guidance on the end of the VAT deferral period very soon but, to be effective, direct debit mandates usually need to be set up three working days before a VAT return is filed.

We cannot set up direct debit mandates on behalf of our clients; the business needs to set up the mandate through their business tax account.

HMRC has confirmed that it will not collect the outstanding balance of deferred VAT when the direct debit mandate is reinstated. HMRC has made the necessary systems change to avoid this happening for businesses in MTD for VAT.

See: https://www.icaew.com/insights/tax-news/2020/jun-2020/businesses-need-to-reinstate-vat-direct-debits

Firms that missed VAT deferral may be able to claim refund

Taxpayers that wanted to defer VAT payments, but failed to cancel their Direct Debits in time, can claim a refund.

HMRC has confirmed that where taxpayers wanted to defer VAT payments due between 20th March 2020 and 30th June 2020, but did not manage to cancel their Direct Debit in time, can claim a refund.

The quickest way for taxpayers to do so, according to HMRC, is to submit a Direct Debit Indemnity Claim to their bank, ensuring that they state they want to claim a refund under the Direct Debit Indemnity Scheme (DDI). HMRC confirms that there is no time limit in making this request.

If the taxpayer wants a repayment from HMRC rather than contacting the bank, they must ensure that their bank details are updated using the online services.

HMRC reminds taxpayers that due to COVID-19 restrictions, Payable Orders are not being issued and that it may take up to 21 days for the refund to be received if the Direct Debit Indemnity Claim process is not used.

Businesses will also need to make arrangements to pay VAT falling due from 1st July 2020 to 31st March 2021 (ie, amounts that are not deferred).

Updated help and support if your business is affected by Coronavirus

The Government has updated its site where you can watch videos and register for the free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

HM Treasury (HMT) Coronavirus business loan scheme statistics

HMT management information about the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) and Future Fund Scheme.


16/06/2020

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will close on 31 October 2020.

From 1 July, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for the hours not worked.

From 1 August 2020, the level of grant will be reduced each month. To be eligible for the grant employers must pay furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they are being furloughed.

The timetable for changes to the scheme is set out below. Wage caps are proportional to the hours an employee is furloughed. For example, an employee is entitled to 60% of the £2,500 cap if they are placed on furlough for 60% of their usual hours:

  • There are no changes to grant levels in June.
  • For June and July, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours the employee is on furlough, as well as employer National Insurance Contributions (ER NICS) and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will have to pay employees for the hours they work.
  • For August, the government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 for the hours an employee is on furlough and employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough.
  • For September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.
  • For October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and top up employees’ wages to ensure they receive 80% of their wages up to a cap of £2,500, for time they are furloughed.

Employers will continue to able to choose to top up employee wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at their own expense if they wish. Employers will have to pay their employees for the hours worked.

The table shows Government contribution, required employer contribution and amount employee receives where the employee is furloughed 100% of the time.

Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.

 

July

August

September

October

Government contribution: employer NICs and pension contributions

Yes

No

No

No

Government contribution: wages

80% up to £2,500

80% up to £2,500

70% up to £2,187.50

60% up to £1,875

Employer contribution: employer NICs and pension contributions

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Employer contribution: wages

-

-

10% up to £312.50

20% up to £625

Employee receives

80% up to £2,500 per month

80% up to £2,500 per month

80% up to £2,500 per month

80% up to £2,500 per month

Calculate how much you can claim using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Calculate how much you have to pay your furloughed employees for hours on furlough, how much you can claim for employer NICs and pension contributions and how much you can claim back.

If you’re using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to claim for employees’ wages, the steps you’ll need to take are:

  1. Check if you can claim.
  2. Check which employees you can put on furlough.
  3. Steps to take before calculating your claim.
  4. Calculate your employees’ wages.
  5. Claim for your employees’ wages.
  6. Report a payment in PAYE Real Time Information.

If you furlough employees because you cannot maintain your current workforce, and your operations have been affected by coronavirus (COVID19), you can apply for a grant under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Prior to 1 July 2020, employees on furlough cannot undertake any work for you other than training. From 1 July, you will:

  • only be able to claim for employees who have previously been furloughed for at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June
  • be able to flexibly furlough employees – this means you can bring your employees back to work for any amount of time, and any work pattern
  • still be able to claim the furlough grant for the hours your flexibly furloughed employees do not work, compared to the hours they would normally have worked in that period

From 1 August, the level of the grant will be slowly reduced. No grant will be available for Class 1 employer NICs or pension contributions from 1 August although these contributions will remain payable by the employer.

From September 1, you will also be asked to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages to ensure they continue to receive at least 80% of their wages for the time they’re on furlough. Find out more information on how the amount of grant available through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.

You’ll still need to pay employer National Insurance and pension contributions on furloughed employees’ pay. For claims ending before 1 August 2020 you can claim for these costs too.

You cannot claim for:

  • additional National Insurance or pension contributions you make because you choose to top up your employee’s wages
  • your employees’ wages for any time they spend working, or any National Insurance or pension contributions you make on these wages
  • any pension contributions you make that are above the mandatory employer contribution

You can choose to top up your employees’ wages above the minimum furlough pay amount but you do not have to. Employees must not work or provide any services for the business during hours which they are recorded as being on furlough, even if they receive a top-up wage.

Record keeping requirements

You must keep a copy of all records for 6 years, including:

  • the amount claimed and claim period for each employee
  • the claim reference number for your records
  • your calculations in case HMRC need more information about your claim
  • usual hours worked, including any calculations that were required, for employees you flexibly furloughed
  • actual hours worked for employees you flexibly furloughed

Use the calculator

This calculator can currently be used to work out what you can claim for in a claim ending on or before 30 June. It can be used for most employees who are paid either regular or variable amounts each pay period (for example, weekly or monthly).

The calculator can also be used to work out what you will be able to claim for claim periods starting on or after 1 July and ending on or before 31 July.

The calculator cannot be used if employees:

  • returned from family-related statutory leave (maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave, adoption leave, parental bereavement leave)
  • get director’s payments
  • have been transferred under TUPE
  • have been employed at separate times throughout the year
  • receive employer pension contributions outside of an auto-enrolment pension scheme
  • have an annual pay period

If you are claiming for an employee who is flexibly furloughed, you will need to work out their usual hours before you use the calculator.

Calculate now

If you cannot use this calculator, you’ll need to work out what you can claim manually using the calculation guidance or by seeking professional advice from an accountant or tax adviser.

We will continue to improve our online services on a frequent basis, including supporting more employment situations with this calculator.

It’s your responsibility to check that the amount you’re claiming for is correct.

Work out the maximum wage amount

The maximum wage amount is £2,500 a month, or £576.92 a week.

Before 1 July this was the maximum amount you could claim for wages under the scheme. From 1 July, the calculations are changing, so this isn’t necessarily the amount you can claim, but you still need to work this out to allow you to calculate how much your employee should be paid and the amount of grant you can claim towards their wages. You will also need to work out 80% of your employee’s usual wage.

If the length of time you’re claiming for is not one week or one month, you’ll need to use the daily maximum wage amounts to work out the maximum amount for each employee.

To work out the maximum amount you can claim, multiply the daily maximum wage amount by the number of calendar days your employee is furloughed for in your claim.

Month

Daily maximum wage amount

March 2020

£80.65 per day

April 2020

£83.34 per day

May 2020

£80.65 per day

June 2020

£83.34 per day

July 2020

£80.65 per day

August 2020

£80.65 per day

September 2020

£83.34 per day*

October 2020

£80.65 per day*

*In September and October, this is the maximum amount you will have to pay a furloughed employee. The amount that you can claim for will be lower.

If your claim period includes dates from two or more calendar months, you’ll need to calculate the maximum amount for each calendar month and add them together. This will only apply to claim periods ending on or before 30 June, as periods from 1 July onward cannot cover more than one calendar month.

If you’re claiming for multiple pay periods in one claim, you can calculate the total maximum using a mixture of:

  • the daily maximum wage amount
  • the weekly maximum wage amount
  • the monthly maximum wage amount

Find an example of working out the maximum wage amount for part of a pay period.

Work out 80% of your employee’s usual wage

You will need to work out 80% of your employee’s usual wages to determine:

  • how much you have to pay your employees for the time they are furloughed
  • what you can claim under the scheme

You can use the calculator to help you work out how much you can claim, though there are some cases where this may not be suitable – it is your responsibility to check that the amount you are claiming for is correct.

You will need to identify the number of furlough days in the period. A furlough day means every calendar day within a period where the employee was either:

  • fully furloughed
  • under a flexible furlough agreement with you

The way you should work out 80% of your employee’s usual wages is different depending on the way they’re paid. You must check what you can include as wages first.

Choose the calculation you think best fits the way your employee is paid. For example, if you pay your employee a fixed regular salary, use the calculation for fixed pay amounts. HMRC will not decline or seek repayment of any grant based solely on the particular choice of pay calculation, as long as a reasonable choice of approach is made.

Where a claim covers multiple pay periods, this calculation should be done for each and then added together.

Work out 80% of wages for employees on a fixed salary

To work out 80% of your employee’s wage:

  1. Start with your employee’s wages, which is their last pay period before 19 March - if you’re claiming for a full pay period, skip to step 4.
  2. Divide by the total number of days in the pay period.
  3. Multiply by the number of furlough days in the pay period.
  4. Multiply by 80%.

Find an example of working out 80% of wages for fixed rate, full or part time employees on a salary.

Find an example of working out 80% of wages for fixed rate full or part time employee who returns to working their usual hours during the claim period.

If you calculated your claim based on the employee’s wages as of 28 February 2020, and this differs from their wages in their last pay period prior to 19 March 2020, you can choose to still use this calculation for your first claim.

If your employee has not been paid for a full pay period up to 19 March 2020

If your employee has not been paid for a full pay period up to 19 March 2020, you’ll need to work out what their usual wages are and then calculate 80%. To do this:

  1. Start with amount they’ve been paid in their last pay period before 19 March.
  2. Divide by the number of days in that pay period (including non-working days).
  3. Multiply by the total number of days that would have been in a full pay period.
  4. Divide by the total number of days in the pay period you are claiming for.
  5. Multiply by the number of furlough days in the pay period you are claiming for.
  6. Multiply by 80%.

Find an example for working out 80% of your employees wages if they have not been paid for a full pay period up to 19 March 2020.

Employees whose pay varies

You should calculate 80% of the higher of either:

  • the wages from the corresponding calendar period in the tax year 2019 to 2020
  • the average wages for the tax year 2019 to 2020

To calculate 80% of the wages from the corresponding calendar period in the tax year 2019 to 2020:

  1. Start with the amount they earned in the same period last year.
  2. Divide by the total number of days in this pay period - including non-working days.
  3. Multiply by the number of furlough days in this pay period.
  4. Multiply by 80%.

If your employee did not work for you in the corresponding calendar period in the tax year 2019 to 2020, you can only use the averaging method to calculate 80% of their wages.

Find an example of claiming for the same period last year.

To work out 80% of the average monthly wages for tax year 2019 to 2020:

  1. Start with the amount they earned in the tax year up to the day before they were furloughed.
  2. Divide it by the number of days from the start of the tax year – including non-working days (up to the day before they were furloughed, or 5 April 2020 – whichever is earlier).
  3. Multiply by the number of furlough days in this pay period.
  4. Multiply by 80%.

Find an example of working out 80% of average monthly wages for the last tax year.

If your employee started working for you on or after 6 April 2019, you should not include the days before their employment started in your calculation.

To work out 80% of your employee’s average earnings for an employee who started working for you on or after 6 April 2019:

  1. Start with the amount they earned in the tax year up to the day before they were furloughed.
  2. Divide it by the number of days they’ve been employed since the start of the tax year – including non-working days (up to the day before they were furloughed or 5 April 2020 – whichever is earlier).
  3. Multiply by the number of furlough days in this pay period.
  4. Multiply by 80%.

Every day after the employee commenced employment with you is counted in making this calculation. This includes non-working days.

Find an example of working out 80% of average wages for the last tax year if employment started after 6 April 2019.

Work out your employee’s minimum furlough pay

The minimum furlough pay is the lesser of either:

  • 80% of their usual wage
  • the maximum wage amount

If your employee is flexibly furloughed the minimum furlough pay depends on their working and furloughed hours.

  1. Start with the lesser of:
  • 80% of their usual wages
  • the maximum wage amount
  1. Multiply by the employee’s furloughed hours.
  2. Divide by the employee’s usual hours.

This is the minimum amount you must pay your employee for the time they are recorded as being on furlough. You can choose to pay more than this but you do not have to.

If any of the furlough hours are taken as paid holiday or annual leave, you need to top up the pay for these hours to the employee’s full contracted rate.

Find an example of how to calculate minimum furlough pay for an employee who is flexibly furloughed.

Work out how much you can claim for your employee’s furlough pay

For periods ending on or before 31 August 2020 you can claim a grant for the full amount of the minimum furlough pay.

For periods starting on or after 1 September you will need to calculate the grant amount as follows:

  1. Start with the amount of minimum furlough pay.
  2. Divide by 80.
  3. Depending on which month you’re claiming for, multiply by:
  • 70 for September
  • 60 for October

Find an example of how to work out how much of the minimum furlough pay you can claim for.

Work out how much you can claim for employer National Insurance contributions (NICs)

You should calculate and pay Class 1 employer NICs in the normal way.

For periods ending on or before 31 July, you can claim for Class 1 employer NICs you’ve paid on the grant for your employee’s wages.

If you choose to top up your employees’ wages, you cannot claim for employer NICs on the amount you’ve topped them up by.

For periods starting on or after 1 August you will not be able to claim a grant towards the employer Class 1 NICs you’ve paid on the grant for your employees’ wages.

If you’re claiming Employment Allowance

To make sure you do not claim too much from the scheme, you must adjust for the Employment Allowance.

Working out what you can claim for claims ending on or before 30 June 2020

You can use either the direct percentage method or the tables method to calculate employer NICs. The difference between the results will be just a few pence. The examples in this guidance use the direct percentage method.

The amount you can claim is calculated differently depending on whether the employee was furloughed for the whole pay period and whether you topped up your employee’s pay.

The grant you claim should not be more than the employer NICs that you are due to pay. If you have no employer NICs to pay, then you cannot claim for them.

The amount of employer NICs you claim for should not be higher than 13.8% of the grant for that employee’s wages.

If your employee is furloughed for the whole pay period, and you do not top up their pay (claims ending on or before 30 June 2020)

To work out how much you can claim to cover employer NICs:

  1. Start with the grant you’re claiming for employee’s wages.
  2. Deduct the relevant secondary NICs threshold.
  3. Multiply this amount by 13.8%.

If you claim the Employment Allowance, you must make sure you do not claim too much from the scheme.

Tax year

National Insurance contribution thresholds

2019 to 2020

£166 per week, £719 per month or £8,632 per year

2020 to 2021

£169 per week, £732 per month or £8,788 per year

Find an example of working out employer NICs for an employee that’s furloughed for a whole pay period with no topped up wages.

If your employee is not furloughed for the whole pay period or you top up their pay (claims ending on or before 30 June 2020)

If your employee is not furloughed for the whole of the pay period, or you top up your employee’s pay over the amounts covered by the grant, then the following steps will help you calculate the amount of employer NICs you can claim for each employee:

  1. Start with the employee’s total pay.
  2. Deduct the relevant secondary NICs threshold.
  3. Multiply by 13.8%.
  4. Divide by the number of calendar days in the pay period.
  5. Multiply by the number of furlough days in the pay period.
  6. Divide by the employee’s total pay for the furlough days in the pay period.
  7. Multiply by the amount of grant for employee wages.

Check that the result of this calculation is not more than the maximum that can be claimed for employer NICs. The following steps will show you how to calculate the maximum employer NICs you can claim for each employee:

  1. Start with the amount of grant for that employee.
  2. Multiply by 13.8%.

You must not claim more than the maximum amount for each employee.

If you claim the Employment Allowance, you must make sure you do not claim too much from the scheme.

Find an example of working out employer NICs for an employee furloughed part way through a pay period and employer does not top up employee’s wages.

Find an example of working out employers NICs for an employee furloughed for part of the pay period and employer tops up employee’s pay.

Working out what you can claim – for claims between 1 July and 31 July 2020

From 1 July 2020, your employees will be able to return to work part-time and be furloughed for the rest of their usual hours. You should calculate the employer NICs that you need to pay in the normal way.

For claim periods between 1 July 2020 and 31 July 2020, you’ll need to work out how much you can claim towards these costs. You should do this calculation separately for each pay period that falls into your claim period. You cannot claim a higher amount than the employer NICs that is due.

Before you calculate the amount you can claim, you will first need to adjust the amount of the relevant secondary NICs threshold.

Tax year

National Insurance contributions thresholds

2020 to 2021

£169 per week, £732 per month or £8,788 per year

To adjust the amount of the relevant secondary NICs threshold:

  1. Start with the relevant secondary NICs threshold that corresponds to the pay period.
  2. Divide by the number of days in the pay period.
  3. Multiply by the number of days in the furlough or flexible furlough claim.

If your employee is flexibly furloughed, you must also:

  1. Divide by the number of usual hours in the flexible furlough claim.
  2. Multiply by the number of furloughed hours in the flexible furlough claim.

Next you will need to use the adjusted secondary NICs threshold to calculate the amount of your grant.

  1. Start with the amount you’re claiming for the employee’s wages.
  2. Deduct the relevant adjusted secondary NICs threshold.
  3. Multiply by 13.8%.

If you claim the Employment Allowance, you must make sure you do not claim too much for Class 1 NICs from the scheme.

Find an example of calculating the grant for employer NICs costs for an employee who is fully furloughed (for claims between 1 July and 31 July 2020).

Find an example of calculating the grant for employer NICs costs for an employee who is flexibly furloughed (for claims from 1 July to 31 July 2020).

Find an example of calculating the grant for employer NICs costs for an employee who is flexibly furloughed where the flexible furlough claim period does not match the employee’s pay period.

Working out what you can claim – for claim periods starting on or after 1 August 2020

From 1 August 2020, you will no longer be able to claim a grant towards the employer NICs that you pay.

Adjusting your claim because of Employment Allowance

You may be eligible to claim the Employment Allowance.

The rules for claiming and applying the Employment Allowance are not different because you are claiming a Job Retention Scheme grant for your Class 1 employer NICs costs. You can claim for a grant towards your Class 1 employer NICs costs in claims up to 31 July 2020.

Eligible employers can use the Employment Allowance to pay less employer NICs, until the allowance runs out or until the end of the tax year, whichever comes first. The Employment Allowance cannot be manually spread out over the tax year if it would otherwise be used up sooner.

When working out how much employer NICs you can claim back from the scheme, you should subtract any Employment Allowance you have used in that pay period.

If you’ve claimed the Employment Allowance and you do not have to pay any employer NICs in a pay period, you should not claim for any employer NICs costs through the scheme.

If the amount of Employment Allowance you can claim will not cover the total employer NICs due, the grant you can claim is the lower of:

  • the grant towards employer NICs costs that you’ve already calculated
  • the employer NICs costs that you paid, or expect to pay, across your entire payroll

Eligible employers can claim the Employment Allowance at any point in the tax year they are claiming for, or for 4 years afterwards. If you have claimed or will claim the grant for employer NICs, you must ensure that you do not receive relief for the same employer NICs costs twice. To do this, you can either:

  • not claim the employer NICs grant
  • reduce the grant you claim to take account of the Employment Allowance
  • contact HMRC via the employer helpline to restrict the value of your Employment Allowance claim

Employers who delay their Employment Allowance claim and have unused Employment Allowance available at the end of the tax year can use this to reduce other tax costs. Employers who have received a grant for employer NICs costs through the scheme should deduct the amount of grant they have received from the amount of Employment Allowance they have left before they use it, if not doing so would result in receiving relief for the same cost twice. Attempting to get relief for the same costs twice is a fraud and may result in claims being investigated.

If your employee is a company director

There are two methods for calculating a director’s Class 1 NICs.

The method you use may affect how much you can claim under the scheme.

For example, if you use the annual cumulative method, and you don’t have to pay employer NICs for the director by the time you make your claim through the scheme, then you cannot claim a grant towards employer NICs costs.

Work out how much you can claim for employer’s pension contributions

You’ll still need to pay pension contributions on behalf of your furloughed employees. Until 1 August 2020 you can claim for these up to the level of the mandatory employer contribution, even if it’s not an auto-enrolment pension.

You cannot claim for any pension contributions:

You’ll need to work out how much you can claim for employer’s pension contributions.

Calculate your claim for pension contributions – claim periods up to and including 30 June 2020

  1. Start with the amount you’re claiming for the employee’s wages.
  2. Deduct the minimum amount your employee would have to earn in the claim period to qualify for employer pension contributions – this is £512 a month for periods before 5 April 2020, and £520 a month for periods after 6 April 2020.
  3. Multiply by 3%.

Grants for pension contributions can be claimed up to this cap provided the employer pays the whole amount claimed to a pension scheme for the employee as an employer contribution.

Find an example of working out pension contributions if an employee is furloughed for the whole pay period and you do not top up their pay (for claim periods up to and including 30 June 2020).

Find an example of working out pension contributions if an employer makes contributions above the minimum level of contributions for an auto-enrolment pension (for claim periods up to and including 30 June 2020).

Find an example of how to calculate the grant towards employer pension contributions where the employee is furloughed during the pay period (for claim periods up to and including 30 June 2020).

Calculate your claim for pension contributions – claim periods from 1 July to 31 July 2020

From 1 July 2020, your employees will be able to return to work part-time and be furloughed for the rest of their usual hours.

For claims between 1 July 2020 and 31 July 2020, you’ll be able to claim towards pension contributions you make on the gross pay grant for the hours they are furloughed. You should do this calculation separately for each pay period that falls into your claim period. You cannot claim for more than you actually contribute to your employee’s pension.

Before you can claim, you will need to adjust the amount of the relevant Lower Level of Qualifying Earnings (LLQE).

Tax year

Lower Level of Qualifying Earnings

2020 to 2021

£120 per week, £520 per month or £6,240 per year

To adjust the amount of the LLQE:

  1. Start with the relevant LLQE that corresponds to the pay period.
  2. Divide by the number of days in the pay period.
  3. Multiply by the number of days in the furlough or part-time furlough claim.

If your employee is flexibly furloughed you must also:

  1. Divide by the number of usual hours in the flexible furlough claim.
  2. Multiply by the number of furloughed hours in the flexible furlough claim.

Next you will need to use the adjusted LLQE to calculate the amount of your grant.

  1. Start with the amount you’re claiming for the employee’s wages.
  2. Deduct the adjusted LLQE.
  3. Multiply by 3%.

You must not claim more towards pension contributions than you have paid into your employee’s pension.

Find an example of calculating the grant for employer pension contributions for an employee who is fully furloughed (for claims from 1 July 2020 to 31 July 2020).

Find an example of calculating the grant for employer pension contributions for an employee who is flexibly furloughed (for claims from 1 July 2020 to 31 July 2020).

Find an example of calculating the grant for employer pension contributions for an employee who is flexibly furloughed where the flexible furlough claim period does not align with the employee’s pay period (for claims from 1 July 2020 to 31 July 2020).

Calculate your claim for pension contributions – claim periods from 1 August 2020

From 1 August 2020 you will no longer be able to claim towards contributions you make into your employees’ pensions.

How to claim

You can claim for wages online through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Once you have completed the calculation for each employee who was furloughed in the claim period follow the instructions to claim for wages online through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including requirements about the records you must keep and how you use the grant.

You must not make the claim if you do not agree to follow those requirements.

Find an example of a full calculation

Use an example to calculate the amount you should claim for an employee who is flexibly furloughed.

Contacting HMRC

We are receiving very high numbers of calls. Contacting HMRC unnecessarily puts our essential public services at risk during these challenging times.

Get help online

Use HMRC’s digital assistant to find more information about the coronavirus support schemes.

You can also contact HMRC if you cannot get the help you need online.

How different circumstances affect the self-employment income support scheme

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme currently allows you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total.

If you are self-employed or member of a partnership find out how your circumstances can affect your eligibility for the scheme.

If you are eligible you must make your claim for the first grant on or before 13 July 2020.

This scheme is being extended.

Different circumstances may affect your eligibility.

How the grant works

If you receive the grant you can continue to work, start a new trade or take on other employment including voluntary work, or duties as an armed forces reservist.

The grant does not need to be repaid but will be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance.

HMRC will work out if you are eligible and how much grant you may get. But you can follow these steps to help you understand how we will do this and what you can do now.

Who can claim

You can claim if you are a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and all of the following apply:

  • you traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted your Self-Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year
  • you traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
  • you intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021
  • you carry on a trade which has been adversely affected by coronavirus

Your business could be adversely affected by coronavirus if, for example:

you are unable to work because you:

  • are shielding
  • are self-isolating
  • are on sick leave because of coronavirus
  • have caring responsibilities because of coronavirus
  • you have had to scale down or temporarily stop trading because:
  • your supply chain has been interrupted
  • you have fewer or no customers or clients
  • your staff are unable to come in to work

Find examples of when the ‘adversely affected’ criteria will be met here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-different-circumstances-affect-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#adversely-affected-examples

You should not claim the grant if you are a limited company or operating a trade through a trust.

To work out your eligibility HMRC will first look at your 2018 to 2019 Self-Assessment tax return. Your trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to your non-trading income.

If you are not eligible based on the 2018 to 2019 Self-Assessment tax return, they will then look at the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, and 2018 to 2019.

Find out how HMRC will work out your eligibility including if they have to use other years here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Grants under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme are not counted as ‘access to public funds’, and you can claim the grant on all categories of work visa.

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How different circumstances affect the scheme:

Check if your circumstances affect your eligibility for the following situations:

  • if your return is late, amended or under enquiry
  • if you are a member of a partnership
  • if you are on or took parental leave
  • if you have loans covered by the loan charge
  • if you claim averaging relief
  • if you are non-resident or chose the remittance basis
  • state aid
  • adversely affected examples

See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-different-circumstances-affect-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Check if you are eligible to claim

You can check online to find out if you are eligible to make a claim for the first grant. Your tax agent or adviser can also check your eligibility on your behalf.

You will need your:

  • Self-Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number - if you do not have this find out how to get your lost UTR number
  • National Insurance number - if you do not have this find out how to get your lost National Insurance number

Online services may be slow during busy times. Find out if there are any problems with this service.

See: https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference

If you are eligible

If you want to claim the first grant you must make your claim on or before 13 July 2020.

To claim you will need your:

  • Government Gateway user ID and password - if you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you check your eligibility or make your claim
  • UK bank details (only provide bank account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted) including:
  • bank account number
  • sort code
  • name on the account
  • your address linked to your bank account

You will have to confirm to HMRC that your business has been adversely affected by coronavirus.

If you are not eligible

HMRC have used the information you or your tax agent or adviser sent them on your Self-Assessment tax returns to work out your eligibility.

If you submitted your returns between 26 March 2020 and 23 April 2020 check your eligibility again as the online service has been updated.

If you think you are eligible, you should first check who can claim or contact your tax agent or adviser for help.

If you still think you should be able to claim you can ask HMRC to review your eligibility here: https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference

How much you will get

You will get a taxable grant based on your average trading profit over the 3 tax years:

  • 2016 to 2017
  • 2017 to 2018
  • 2018 to 2019

HMRC will work out your average trading profit by adding together your total trading profits or losses for the 3 tax years, then they will divide by 3.

The first grant will be worth 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £7,500 in total. The online service will tell you how they have worked your grant out.

The grant amount HMRC work out for you will be paid directly into your bank account, in one instalment.

Find out how HMRC will work out your average trading profits including if you have not traded for all 3 years here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#threeyears

How to claim

Make your claim as the online service for the first grant is now available. If you are eligible and want to claim the first grant you must make your claim on or before 13 July 2020 see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme

If you are unable to claim online you should contact HMRC for help: 0800 024 1222

Find out about the extension to the scheme

This scheme is being extended, and you will be able to claim a second and final grant in August 2020.

HMRC will work out your eligibility the same way as the first grant. If you make a claim for the second grant you will have to confirm your business has been adversely affected on or after 14 July 2020.

This grant will be a taxable grant worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering a further 3 months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total.

You can claim for the second and final grant even if you did not make a claim for the first grant.

The online service for the second and final grant is not available yet. HMRC will update their webpage when available.

Please contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk if you need any support.

How to complete a Covid-19 Risk Assessment

As part of the Government’s plans to ease out of lockdown, businesses are required to undertake a Risk Assessment

All non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, all furniture stores, books, and electronics, tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets can reopen from Monday, 15th June.

But it is important to note that, as well as putting measures in place to keep everyone safe by following the COVID-19 secure and safe guidelines, business owners must have completed a risk assessment. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.

The vast majority of businesses will want to do everything possible to protect their staff and customers, but tough powers are in place to enforce action if they don’t, including fines and jail sentences of up to 2 years.

The government is taking action to help businesses re-open and protect their staff and customers. The updated guidance takes into account the best practice demonstrated by the many retailers which have been allowed to remain open and have applied social distancing measures in store. Measures that shops should consider include:

  • placing a poster in their windows to demonstrate awareness of the guidance and commitment to safety measures
  • storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back out on the shop floor
  • placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas
  • frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals, for example

As per the roadmap, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector, remain closed, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/covid-19-how-to-complete-a-risk-assessment/

Check which expenses are taxable if your employee works from home due to coronavirus

Find out what equipment, services or supplies are taxable if your employees are working from home due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Who is affected

You could be affected if any of your employees are working from home due to coronavirus (COVID-19), either because:

  • your workplace has closed
  • they are following advice to self-isolate

Who is not affected

Furloughed workers who are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Type of equipment, service or supply

Mobile phones and SIM cards (no restriction on private use)

If you provide a mobile phone and SIM card without a restriction on private use, limited to one per employee, this is non-taxable.

Broadband

If your employee already pays for broadband, then no additional expenses can be claimed.

If a broadband internet connection is needed to work from home and one was not already available, then the broadband fee can be reimbursed by you and is non-taxable.

In this case, the broadband is provided for business and any private use must be limited.

Laptops, tablets, computers, and office supplies

If these are mainly used for business purposes and not significant private use, these are non-taxable.

Reimbursing expenses for office equipment your employee has bought

If your employee needs to buy home office equipment to allow them to work from home, they will need to discuss this with you in advance.

If you reimburse your employee the actual costs of the purchase, then this is non-taxable provided there is no significant private use.

If you do not reimburse your employee, then they can claim tax relief for these purchases on their tax return or P87 as long as the amount claimed is incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of their duties of employment.

Your employees will need to keep records of their purchase and claim for the exact amount. For more information on the strict tests that need to be passed in order to qualify for tax relief see the guidance on Employment Income.

Additional expenses like electricity, heating or broadband

Payment or reimbursement to your employees of up to £4 a week (£6 a week from 6 April 2020) is non-taxable for the additional household expenses incurred when your employee is working from home.

If the claim is above this amount, then your employee will need to:

  • check with you beforehand to see if you will make these payments
  • keep receipts

Employer provided loans

A salary advance or loan to help your employee at a time of hardship counts as an employment-related loan.

Loans provided with a value less than £10,000 in a tax year are non-taxable.

Further information on loans.

Temporary accommodation

If your employee needs to self-isolate but cannot do so in their own home, you can reimburse hotel expenses and subsistence costs, these are taxable.

Further information on accommodation expenses.

Employees using their own vehicle for business

You can pay approved mileage allowance payments of 45p per mile up to 10,000 miles (25p per mile thereafter) free of tax and National Insurance contributions.

If you do not pay mileage allowance, your employee can claim tax relief through their Personal Tax Account.

Further information on approved mileage allowance payments.

Significant private use

For items which are taxable, exemptions for work related benefits must show that there is no significant private use.

HMRC accepts that where:

  • your policy about private use is clearly stated to your employee and sets out the circumstances in which private use may be made (this may include making the conditions clear in employment contracts or asking employees to sign a statement acknowledging company policy on what use is allowed and any disciplinary consequences if the policy is not followed)
  • any decision of the employer not to recover the costs of private use is a commercial decision, rather than rewarding your employee

Significant private use should not be based on the time spent on different uses. It should be based on your employee’s duties and the need for them to have the equipment or services provided so they can do their job.

Record keeping

You do not have to keep detailed records of every instance of private use to prove a claim for exemption.

How to report to HMRC

Taxable expenses or benefits

Any expenses or benefits which are related to coronavirus can be reported on your PAYE Settlement Agreement.

This means you can settle tax and National Insurance contributions on any expenses or benefits, even though the responsibility would usually be on your employee, or on both you and your employee.

This applies to coronavirus related items only, for example, a new desk can go onto the PAYE Settlement Agreement, but a new sofa cannot.

If you are currently payrolling benefits in kind, you may continue to report expenses and benefits through your payroll. You may also continue to report expenses and benefits through P11D returns.

Non-taxable expenses or benefits

Do not report to HMRC.

Further information on non-taxable expenses or benefits for employees.

Taxable benefit charge - returning office equipment

Equipment provided by employer

You may have supplied employees with office equipment so they could work from home. There’s no tax charge when they return the equipment to you, so long as there’s no transfer of ownership.

If you do transfer ownership of the equipment to an employee, at any time, this will become an employee benefit. The charge will be on the market value of the equipment at the time of the transfer, minus any amount the employee may have paid towards the equipment.

Equipment reimbursed by employer

Your employee may have agreed to buy their own home office equipment for use whilst working at home and you have reimbursed the exact expense. Unless you have specified that they must transfer ownership to you, the equipment is owned by your employee.

There is no benefit charge on the reimbursement. There is also no benefit charge if you let your employee keep the equipment as it is something that they already own.

Contact HMRC

Contact HMRC if you’re an employer and need help and support on paying tax due to coronavirus.

Get help online

Use HMRC’s digital assistant to find more information about the coronavirus support schemes.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-expenses-are-taxable-if-your-employee-works-from-home-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

1 in 3 in the North West targeted by a scammer during lockdown

1 in 3 people in the North West have been the target of a scam since lockdown came into effect across the country, according to data from Citizens Advice.

67% of peopleare worried someone they know will fall foul of a con. And an overwhelming majority, 90%, reported they felt wary of coronavirus scams in particular.

Citizens Advice Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale and Trafford is encouraging people to talk about their experiences and look out for others they think could be at risk at the beginning of Scams Awareness Fortnight.

Jonathan Yates, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale and Trafford said:

Our data shows that the last few months have been very difficult for a lot of people across Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale and Trafford. And despite this, we’ve seen appalling evidence of opportunistic scammers taking advantage of people’s worries and concerns.

“It’s really important we all do our bit and report anything that looks like a con when we see it. By learning how scammers operate, and helping each other understand what to look out for, we can all work together to stop fraudsters in their tracks.”

To help stop more people in the North West being fleeced by these types of scams, Citizens Advice Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale and Traffordhas shared the following tips on how to spot them:

If you’re worried you, or someone you know, could be getting scammed take the following steps:

  • Look into installing a call blocker to help combat telephone scams
  • Talk to your or their bank immediately if there is any suspicious activity or transactions from their account or credit cards
  • Report the scam to Citizens Advice who will give you advice on what to do next and report the scam to Trading Standards
  • Report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
  • If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts Citizens Advice may be able to help

You can also take the following steps to safeguard yourself and others:

  • Be suspicious if you’re contacted out of the blue, even if it’s from a name you recognise
  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is
  • Never send money to someone you’ve never met
  • Never give out your bank details unless you are certain you can trust the person contacting you 
  • Don’t be rushed – you never need to make a decision straight away and if you feel pressured say “no”
  • Suspect a scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call 
  • Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams

Scams Awareness Fortnight runs from 15th to the 28th June. It is an annual campaign which aims to create a network of confident, alert consumers who know what to do when they see a scam. The campaign includes a range of organisations across the Consumer Protection Partnership, including Trading Standards, the Department for Business Energy and Infrastructure, and Citizens Advice Scotland.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/1-in-3-in-the-north-west-targeted-by-a-scammer-during-lockdown/


11/06/2020

How to monitor team wellbeing

While the long-term impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) may not be known for months, many businesses are already having to adapt to their employees working from home – making the need to monitor team wellbeing increasingly important.

For some, this can feel like a pleasant change, particularly early on. However, it can throw up all sorts of challenges for employers and team members who are not used to it. For owners and managers, perhaps the most important question is how do you monitor team wellbeing if you’re not in the same building every day?

Why it’s so important to monitor team wellbeing

There’s plenty of research that shows a happy workforce increases performance and productivity in a business. Employees who feel physically and emotionally healthy are more likely to be engaged, productive and committed to their jobs.

They’ll also be more able to cope with the disruption and stress a new routine may bring. This is particularly the case if they’re juggling the job with looking after children sent home from school, or loved ones affected by coronavirus.

Social interaction is a major part of team wellbeing. Feelings of isolation and loneliness could become common the longer working from home persists. Lower engagement, lower productivity and general unhappiness are then likely to set in.

Under the circumstances most of us now find ourselves in, looking after the wellbeing of team members is more important than ever.

Ensuring you have certain procedures and technologies in place will help you support your team.

The basics

  • Ensure everyone’s contact details and emergency contacts are up to date
  • Make sure employees know who they should report to if they suspect they, or someone in their household, has coronavirus symptoms
  • Make sure employees understand what sick pay and leave they are entitled to
  • Communicate regularly with team members and share appropriate information from the government as it is released.

Rachel Suff, senior employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “Promote the resources you have available to support people’s health and wellbeing generally. Make sure you listen to any concerns and that employees are taking care of their mental wellbeing.”

Things to consider when team members are remote working

Step 1: Make sure you have the right software in place

The key to keeping employees connected is having the right technology in place. Many businesses use email, but video conferencing and encouraging phone calls go a long way to replicating face-to-face conversations.

Most people find talking face-to-face (via a video call) easier, quicker and harder to misinterpret than email. It’s to complete work and helps minimise any friction that may arise while employees are feeling stress.

Research has found that remote workers find it difficult to recognise if colleagues are feeling stressed when they can’t see them. A sharp email which may have been easily forgiven if someone can see a colleague is having a tough day feels different when you’re working remotely.

Workers may now go a whole day without speaking to anyone, which over time, can have a significant impact on their mood and mental health.

  • Make sure you have the right software in place to encourage face-to-face interaction
  • Make sure all employees know how to use it
  • Set the standard by using it yourself so employees follow your lead
  • Review and consider if you need to introduce other ways for team members to engage

Step 2: Keeping connected and encouraging productivity

Research shows that when employees aren’t in regular contact with colleagues or managers, their productivity can drop. This isn’t the case for all workers, but a lack of contact can result in people beginning to feel their work is invisible or undervalued.

Many team members struggle to cope with less access to support and communication. It can feel like their manager doesn’t have the same oversight of how busy they are. Over a long period of time, isolation can cause employees to feel less connection to the company. They may even consider leaving once the coronavirus outbreak passes as a result.

According to Gallup’s physical wellbeing lead, Ryan Wolf, “the key to effectively managing remote workers is personalised coaching”. This means ramping up communication and finding out when in the day those feelings of isolation peak (one study found it to be mid-afternoon).

  • Make sure every employee is regularly contacted by someone in management or HR
  • Introduce regular team catch ups, where employees can report on what they’re working on and share challenges
  • Look out for employees who you haven’t heard from recently. The absence of communication from an employee can often be a sign they’re struggling

Step 3: Keeping up the physical health of employees

Some employees may be used to working from home already. They may have an office space set up and won’t notice many changes to their daily routine.

For others, this is all new. It will create physical challenges as much as mental ones. Team members may be seated at kitchen or dining room tables for long periods of time, or working from the sofa on their laptop. Physical discomfort or even pain may begin to appear after a few days or weeks.

  • Encourage employees to take regular breaks, be it making a cup of tea, wandering around and getting some fresh air, or stretching their legs up their road (while following social distancing guidelines)
  • Encourage exercise. There are lots of free apps such as the Nike Training Club or Daily Workouts Fitness Trainer. YouTube is full of exercise videos for all levels of fitness as well. Most of these are designed for home workouts with little or no gym equipment
  • Provide hardware, such as keyboards, so that employees can replicate their office workstation as much as possible. If you can afford it, you might want to consider supplying office furniture for those who don’t have it

Step 4: Working on mental health too

“Employers need to ensure they don’t take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to managing the mental health of remote workers,” Health Assured CEO David Price believes. It can be “particularly taxing” working remotely and “being isolated from the rest of the organisation” in his view.

One of the most important steps you can take is providing a way for employees to interact socially about non-work topics. Encouraging employees to talk to each other and replicate the conversations they usually have over lunch, a cup of tea or a glass of wine is vital for mental health.

  • Establish virtual lunches where employees can eat with each other over a video call
  • Consider things like yoga or meditation sessions which employees can join. There are plenty of independent coaches who provide classes via Zoom or Google Hangouts
  • Share links to mental health support websites and let your employees know that it’s not unusual to find remote working tough at times
  • Be aware that employees will be looking to managers for cues on reacting to the sudden changes. If they sense their manager is calm, this will trickle down to them. Acknowledge that they may be feeling worried, but regularly reiterate your confidence in employees and offer emotional support

Step five: Keeping on track for weeks or months

Nobody is certain how long the current situation is going to last for, which means remote working could become essential for weeks or months.

Feedback and regular assessments of how your team’s experience is turning out will be vital. So will monitoring your own physical and mental health – you will be impacted by this change just as much as your team. A great tool to gather feedback from your team is team surveys to keep on top of how everyone is feeling.

There’s plenty of help and advice out there, beyond what we’ve laid out here. Follow these areas of focus, and you can make remote working a success for your workforce during this challenging time.

https://www.bethebusiness.com/productivity-insights/how-to-monitor-staff-wellbeing/

Apply for the coronavirus local authority discretionary grants fund

The Discretionary Grant Fund supports small and micro businesses that are not eligible for othergrant schemes opened on the 8 June.

Small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Scheme.

What you get

You can get a grant of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000.

Eligibility

You may be eligible if your business:

  • is based in England
  • has relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • occupies property (or part of a property) with a rateable value or annual mortgage/rent payments below £51,000
  • was trading on 11 March 2020

You will need to show that your business has suffered a significant fall in income due to coronavirus.

The Government has asked local councils to prioritise businesses such as:

  • small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, such as units in industrial parks or incubators
  • regular market traders
  • bed and breakfasts paying council tax instead of business rates
  • charity properties getting charitable business rates relief, which are not eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief

Local councils have discretion about how to prioritise this funding. Please check with your council for details of their scheme.

You cannot apply if your business is in administration, insolvent or has received a striking-off notice.

If you are already claiming funding

You cannot apply if you are already claiming under another government grant scheme, such as:

  • Small Business Grant Fund
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant
  • Fisheries Response Fund
  • Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme
  • Zoos Support Fund
  • Dairy Hardship Fund

Businesses that apply for the discretionary grants scheme can still apply for coronavirus-related loans if they are eligible.

You are still eligible if you have applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

If you already get state aid

The discretionary grants fund counts towards state aid.

Payments of £10,000 or less count towards the total de minimis state aid you are allowed to get over a 3-year period - €200,000. If you have reached that threshold, you may still be eligible for funding under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework.

Payments of £25,000 count as state aid under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework. The limit for the framework is €800,000.

Your local council will ask you to complete a declaration confirming that:

  • you will not exceed the relevant state aid threshold
  • you were not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019. This applies only to the COVID-19 Temporary Framework

To find your local council see: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council

Full report see: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-coronavirus-local-authority-discretionary-grants-fund

Government help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus

Watch videos and register for the free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

Sending your forms to companies house during the coronavirus outbreak

As an emergency response to coronavirus (COVID-19), Companies House has developed a temporary online service to upload a number of completed forms and send them to Companies House digitally.

As part of their response to coronavirus, they are currently working new ways to allow users to file documents with them. They have introduced a temporary service to upload a document to Companies House during the coronavirus outbreak.

Read the guidance to find out which documents you can upload using the new upload service.

They are continually working to improve the service. As this service is updated, it will include more document types and features such as acknowledgments and payments.

This service will not be available for Companies House documents you can already send to them online.

You must use the existing online services to:

  • file your accounts
  • file your confirmation statement
  • make changes to your company
  • close your company

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sending-your-forms-to-companies-house-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

Parents returning to work after extended leave eligible for furlough

People on paternity and maternity leave who return to work in the coming months will be eligible for the government’s furlough scheme, HM Treasury announced 9 June.

In essence:

  • Parents on statutory maternity and paternity leave who return to work in the coming months will be eligible for furlough scheme even after 10 June cut-off date
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will close to new entrants at the end of June as new flexibilities are introduced to support economy
  • This will only apply where they work for an employer who has previously furloughed employees
  • This also applies to people on adoption leave, shared parental leave, and parental bereavement leave.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/parents-returning-to-work-after-extended-leave-eligible-for-furlough

UK regional rebalancing may be boosted by COVID-19 response

The COVID-19 pandemic may have boosted the Government’s regional rebalancing strategy to benefit areas including the North West, according to the UK chief economist at global commercial property services company Colliers International.

Speaking at a Northern Powerhouse Regional Economic Briefing webinar, which is part of a series around the UK regions focusing upon his paper ‘Regional Revolution III: Rise of Cross Border Investment’, Dr Walter Boettcher (pictured), said: “Regional rebalancing that lies at the heart of Government economic planning may have just received an unexpected, but decisive boost.”

The webinar was hosted by Michael Hawkins, Manchester-based director at Colliers International, and head of National Office Agency and Development UK Regions.

Michael believed that cross-border investment in the Northern Powerhouse cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle will continue to be attracted by key factors including an educated workforce created by the quality of ‘international talent’ emerging from universities; foreign ownership of the region’s football teams from which follows investment; the ongoing appeal of infrastructure to overseas investors such as the Chinese and the ability of forward-thinking and proactive local authorities to secure private investment in developments across a range of sectors such as residential, hotels and logistics.

“These cities continue to attract investment from around the globe because they are cosmopolitan cities in cosmopolitan parts of the country – the cities have vibrancy and the intellect of their communities,” he explained.

Michael also believed the Government’s commitment to rebalance the economy by investing in Northern cities will ‘continue unabated’ – with further significant regeneration schemes started and completed before the next general election.

“I am upbeat because although we face great challenges, we also have great resilience and great UK institutions that continue to commit to regional cities alongside the global investment appetite in these cities. All of the cities and local authorities have continued to work during the pandemic and encouraged investment in their cities,” he added.

Explaining that while many investors viewed the coronavirus crisis as a temporary interruption of pre-pandemic trends, Dr Boettcher said others perceived ‘the beginning of a large-scale change in the patterns of commercial activity and use of real estate”.

Some London occupiers may seek to grow their existing regional footprints or establish new regional footprints altogether, in order to reduce the density of their existing office use. 

Dr Boettcher, whose paper explores cross border investment into the UK regions and possible future trends, told the webinar audience that while Government investment in the regions would be an essential part of the Covid recovery, this could be ‘supercharged’ if supplemented with private investment, especially cross border investment. Furthermore, the positive signs are already evident.

He highlighted the fact that the COVID-19 emergency measures included a substantial fiscal stimulus designed to work in tandem with monetary stimulus, and that this was in addition to the £600 billion of investment over five years in the regions announced by the Government shortly before the pandemic reached the UK.

“In net terms, public investment is set to be the highest since 1955 in real terms,” he said, although he cautioned that until the delayed National Infrastructure Strategy was published, details of capital allocations would remain uncertain.

Dr Boettcher added: “Let us hope that the resolve to push these plans ahead is not dissipated by any further delays. In many ways, the years of austerity were years of lost opportunity. Now is the time to push forward. Regional Revolution!”

In his paper ‘Regional Revolution III: Rise of Cross Border Investment’, Dr Boettcher pointed out that prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the UK regions such as the North West were attracting increasing attention from commercial property investors, and in particular cross border investors.

He said: “In the early to mid-2000s, regional investment was the province of large UK pension and insurance funds, as well as the odd German fund, but by the late 2010s, the regional investor base expanded to include a wider range of investors, especially cross-border investors.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that these regional gains could be reversed as transactions decline and risk perception rises, in fact, the North West and other regions are well positioned for a post-pandemic recovery.”

Dr Boettcher added: “Clearly, UK government resources are limited and the scale of the necessary investment required to ‘rebalance the UK economy’ and to ‘improve productivity across the regions’ goes well beyond central government’s financial capacity to deliver.

“The heavy lifting in the regions, as contemplated by central government, can only be achieved in tandem with cross-border investors and UK institutions who have the required depth of capital. The task of central government is one of direction, seed funding and focusing on providing an adequate infrastructure framework to support the necessary development.

“Perhaps the most crucial and indispensable task is left to local governments and, especially local stakeholders, to envision and bring to market projects of sufficient scale to attract investors and to enable their engagement. It is in this way that the UK regions will benefit from the much vaunted regional rebalancing, that is at the least, one generation overdue.

“Furthermore, general investment in the UK, unlike Government investment, is not a zero-sum game. Given the weight of global and domestic institutional capital, there are sufficient resources to float all the boats across London and the UK regions without any region being left behind.”

https://www.gmchamber.co.uk/news-opinions/member-news/uk-regional-rebalancing-may-be-boosted-by-covid-19-response

The Way Forward: Health – Staying Safe

Chris Fletcher, Policy, Campaigns and Communications Director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, looks at the health impact of Covid-19.

What we have been through the last 3 months is primarily a health-related crisis caused by Covid-19. Social distancing and restrictive measures on movement, work and social contacts were put in place to stop the spread of what has proven to be a highly contagious and lethal virus. Extra measures have been placed to protect those most at risk: the clinically extremely vulnerable through “shielding”, in addition to ongoing strict self-isolation rules for those showing symptoms.

The continuation and “loosening” of these measures will ultimately drive and inform any subsequent recovery activity. Guidelines are in place to inform what will need to be done in workplaces across all sectors – though it should be noted that some businesses have continued to work through the lockdown period observing social distancing measures where possible. The myth that the economy has closed needs addressing with many businesses continuing to trade safely on site or via the new legions of home workers.

The confidence in being safe and staying safe will impact on how a return into work is actioned.

The primary guidance is that for those people that can, are able to and have been working at home to continue to do so. Vulnerable people and those with a range of other conditions will continue to undertake strict shielding and isolation measures.

As part of a small work group set up by British Chambers of Commerce I’ve been privy to the initial draft guidance of the working guidelines now in place. Much of it is common sense but make no mistake even with smaller distancing measures they are disruptive.

Strict distancing guidelines will be put in place in all workspaces and for all sectors. Including entry/exit points, one way flows in public areas/corridors, lifts and guidelines around meetings.

The guidance for the hospitality sector is restrictive and for many members of the public looking forward to nipping out for a post-lockdown pint, this may not be as easy as it once was. The latest guidelines on personal services – hairdressers causes an equally big shock to the system – face visors and shields being the new order of the day.

Economically, which we will look at tomorrow, these businesses will need continued support, especially those whose income has been decimated through closure.

Above all though it is vital that a second wave of the virus is avoided. With the onset of flu season just a few months away safety first has to be the order of the day, but the economy still needs to operate. This is the world of health and commerce coming together and will form the basis of whatever the “new normal” will look like.

Workplace Guidance documents are accessible here – “Working Safely Through Coronavirus”

 Issues to consider:

  • Decision making and planning around what levels of workforce do you need in/can you operate with? Is home working a long term viable option? What are the implications on office/workspace?
  • How do you tackle the levels of confidence in public transport and people’s commute? It shouldn’t feel like you are running the gauntlet it has to be overtly safe.
  • What liability will employers and business owners have following the undertaking of an effective risk assessment and implementation of guidelines?
  • Enforcement of guidelines and constant monitoring – changes cannot be a one off done at the start of a return to work but will they have to be managed on an ongoing basis?
  • Should there be dispensation for in work testing and access to health care?
  • There may be costs of buying in PPE/structural changes/office layout and other necessary actions to implement the guidelines - who should fund these? Does there need to be clearer definition of the role of building owners/landlords?
  • Shielded/vulnerable staff – how can they be effectively employed safely?

https://www.gmchamber.co.uk/news-opinions/the-way-forward-health-staying-safe

Arrangements for children during lockdown

With many children now not expected to return to school until September 2020, original arrangements of separated parents may have become more unbalanced due to the pandemic. SAS Daniels family law team share their guidance below:

It is unsurprising that family solicitors are being asked for guidance during such unprecedented times. Resolution, an organisation designed to support family solicitors in achieving best practice, has issued a series of suggestions that separated parents may find helpful.

  1. The school closures have caused children to spend more time with one parent than was envisaged at the time that original arrangements were made. To introduce balance, additional calls can be made between the children and the other household through the likes of: Zoom, WhatsApp video calls, FaceTime and Skype.
  2. To introduce an element of interest for the children, simple activities, such as playing in the garden and helping with cooking, could be filmed and sent to the non-present parent. This would act as an update for the parent and as content for their next call.
  3. Different people have different perceptions of risk. To avoid disharmony, prior arrangements as to what is, or is not, acceptable to both parents should be discussed from the outset. This could range from obvious questions, such as: do both parents feel comfortable over the child being taken to a supermarket or to a park? Or considerations for additional safety measures being invoked at the present time, such as the child always wearing a helmet if they are riding their scooter. If in doubt, both parents should agree to err on the side of caution.
  4. With no timeframe set for a return to school, increased communication regarding the children’s daily timetable for schoolwork needs to be shared. Most schoolwork is online, but if children are moving regularly between households there will need to be increased dialogue in regards to the transportation of any additional resources that they are likely to need.
  5. There will be situations where one parent is missing time with the children that they would otherwise have had. If a parent is working in a high-risk occupation, such as nursing, it may have been agreed that less time, or indeed no time, is spent with the children to alleviate risk. Problems may also arise where there is a logistical distance between the parents’ homes, making it difficult to adhere to the guidelines for restricting travel where possible. It is suggested, that the parent spending greater time with the children approach the other to offer additional time later on in the year, perhaps holiday time, to recompense for any missed time.

If parents are experiencing difficulties arriving at a consensus in relation to COVID-19 arrangements, mediators and family solicitors are still working and conducting telephone and video meetings with a view to providing advice, assistance and support to bridge the gap. Children will no doubt already be feeling anxious, making it even more important to minimise parental conflict.

Where issues are impossible to resolve, an application can still be made to Court, however the Courts are unable to operate as efficiently as they were doing prior to the introduction of social distancing measures, therefore, as always, Court should be viewed as a last resort. In these difficult times, unless your situation constitutes an emergency you are likely to experience a delay within the Court system.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/sas-daniels-share-advice-on-arrangements-for-children-during-lockdown/


09/06/2020

Business secretary launches working groups to help unleash Britain's growth potential

Beginning this week, Mr Sharma will chair the first meetings of new ‘recovery roundtables’ bringing together businesses, business representative groups and leading academics. They will consider measures to support economic recovery and ensure we have the right skills and opportunities in place for our workforce over the next 18 months.

They will also explore key domestic and global challenges to support a green and resilient recovery and ensure the UK is at the forefront of new and emerging industries.

Focused on 5 key themes, each group will explore how business can work with government to deliver economic growth and jobs:

  • The future of industry: How to accelerate business innovation and leverage private sector investment in research and development
  • Green recovery: How to capture economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero carbon emissions
  • Backing new businesses: How to make the UK the best place in the world to start and scale a business
  • Increasing opportunity: How to level up economic performance across the UK, including through skills and apprenticeships
  • The UK open for business: How to win and retain more high value investment for the UK

This initiative builds on the close engagement between the UK’s business community, the Business Department and across Whitehall as we have responded to the pandemic.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/business-secretary-launches-working-groups-to-help-unleash-britains-growth-potential

Reverse charge VAT for construction services - delay in implementation

This brief explains that the introduction of the domestic reverse charge for construction services will be delayed for a period of 5 months from 1 October 2020 until 1 March 2021 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the construction sector.

In addition, there will be an amendment to the original legislation, which was laid in April 2019, to make it a requirement that for businesses to be excluded from the reverse charge because they are end users or intermediary suppliers, they must inform their sub-contractors in writing that they are end users or intermediary suppliers.

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/revenue-and-customs-brief-7-2020-domestic-reverse-charge-vat-for-construction-services-delay-in-implementation

Making and registering a lasting power of attorney (LPA) during the coronavirus outbreak

If you want to make an LPA now, you can still do so while observing government guidance on social distancing, self-isolating and shielding.

See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-and-registering-an-lpa-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak


04/06/2020

Business Continuity – are you prepared?

According to a report by smallbusiness.co.uk, just 27 per cent of small businesses have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place, and of those 73 per cent said they hadn’t tested it in the last 12 months. And yet, tweaking and testing business continuity plans on a regular basis is critical. Many business owners believe business continuity planning is a costly and difficult exercise – but it doesn’t need to be either of those.

The easiest way to go about creating a BCP is to determine potential disruptors to your business, then create plans to ensure services and operations are impacted minimally. Implementing and detailing procedures around this means that you are protecting your business if the unexpected were to happen.

Some of the potential disruptors could include fire, flooding, internet or hardware failure and cyberattack. And when assessing these disruptors, some of the key business issues you may need to focus on include remote access to systems, employee communication, GDPR compliance and access to backed-up or important documents (such as insurance details).

Of course, there are also many factors that need to be considered outside of these, including customer service, cybersecurity and insurance. These are important to think about when creating your BCP. Ensuring you cover all bases means that there are no nasty surprises lurking if you do need to implement your plan.

Many small businesses don’t think they need a BCP, but in reality, it’s important for any size business. As a small business, you are one of those most affected by downtime, and without the required planning, insolvency is a real risk after a major crisis.

Thinking of the recent COVID-19 lockdown, were you prepared? Did your customers notice any change in their service? Did your insurance cover you? Were you sending confidential documents with the ease of mind that there was no way they could be intercepted by cybercriminals? Did you know what to look out for if cybercriminals were trying to target your business at home?

https://www.the2020group.com/business-continuity-are-you-prepared/

How to treat certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during coronavirus

Find out about taxable expenses and benefits when they are paid to employees because of coronavirus and how to report them to HMRC.

This guidance is about Income Tax treatment only. National Insurance contributions treatment may vary depending on the individual benefit or expense.

Living accommodation

If your employee is working at a permanent workplace

If you’re providing living accommodation for an employee working at a permanent workplace because of coronavirus, the cost will be taxable.

If an exemption applies, for example, if your employee is a warden of a sheltered housing scheme and is living at the premises, where they are on call outside normal working hours, there will be no tax charge.

If your employee is working at a temporary workplace (for less than 24 months)

Tax relief is available for your employees who are provided with living accommodation when working at a temporary workplace because of coronavirus.

You should report the cost of providing the accommodation on a P11D as normal, even if the value of the benefit is nil.

Lodging expenses

If your employee cannot return home because of coronavirus you may agree to reimburse their subsistence expenses and lodging expenses, for example if they stay in a hotel room.

These are taxable and can be reported through a PAYE Settlement Agreement.

Volunteer fuel and mileage costs

To support volunteer work by your employees, you may agree to refund fuel costs or fund the costs of volunteer mileage.

Employees using company cars

You may agree to refund the fuel costs (using the Advisory Fuel Rates) of your employees carrying out volunteer work related to coronavirus, for example, delivering medical supplies including PPE.

These refunds are a benefit and you may settle any tax and National Insurance contributions on your employee’s behalf by reporting through a PAYE Settlement Agreement.

You may also agree to fund the cost of fuel for volunteer mileage related to coronavirus. Volunteer mileage should not be taken into account for the purposes of the car fuel benefit charge for company cars.

Any tax and National Insurance contributions due should be reported through a PAYE Settlement Agreement as a coronavirus related benefit based on the appropriate advisory fuel rate for the volunteer mileage.

Employees using private cars

If your employee uses their own car to volunteer you can refund them up to the level of the approved mileage allowance rate. This is taxable and should be reported through a PAYE Settlement Agreement as a coronavirus related benefit.

If you pay your employee less than the approved mileage allowance rate they cannot claim mileage allowance relief.

Paying or refunding transport costs

If you pay or refund your employee the cost of transport from work to home, this is considered to be a benefit. This is because journeys between an employee’s workplace and home are private journeys.

In some circumstances there is an exemption from paying tax on this benefit. For this to happen, all of the following 4 conditions must be met:

  • the employee has to work later than usual, and until at least 9pm
  • this happens irregularly
  • by the time the employee finishes work, either:
    • public transport has stopped
    • it would not be reasonable to expect them to to use public transport
  • the transport is by taxi or similar road transport

Your employees may regularly travel to work in a car with one or more other employees using a car-sharing arrangement. If this arrangement stops because of unforeseen and exceptional circumstances, which are coronavirus related, and you provide transport or reimbursement of the expense of transport from your employee’s home to workplace, this may also be exempt.

The total number of exempt journeys cannot exceed 60 journeys in a tax year. This is a single limit that applies to the late-night journeys and the failure of any car-sharing arrangement, together.

If these requirements are not met, free or subsidised transport is taxable and should be reported through a PAYE Settlement Agreement as a coronavirus related benefit.

Free or subsidised meals

You do not have to report anything to HMRC or pay tax and National Insurance if you offer all your employees:

  • free or subsidised meals of a reasonable value at a workplace canteen
  • vouchers that cover the cost of buying these meals

Free or subsidised meals that are not exempt

This includes meals that are:

  • not on a reasonable scale, for example elaborate meals with fine wines
  • provided off-site but not at a canteen, for example at a restaurant
  • not available to all staff, for example meals for directors only
  • provided under salary sacrifice or flexible remuneration arrangements (also known as ‘flexible benefit plans’)

If you provide your employees with vouchers for meals outside the workplace find out how to report this to HMRC.

If you provide other vouchers, cash allowances or employee accounts, this counts as earnings, for example:

  • vouchers that can be exchanged for either food or cash
  • cash allowances for meals
  • top-up payments to an employee’s account for workplace food and drink using a card or PIN system

For these costs, you must:

  • add the amount to your employee’s other earnings
  • deduct and pay PAYE tax and Class 1 National Insurance through payroll

If the meals or vouchers you provide are not exempt, you need to report them to HMRC and deduct and pay tax and National Insurance on the costs.

Company car ‘availability’

Your employee may have been furloughed or is working from home, because of coronavirus, and provided with a company car which they still have. You should treat the car as being made ‘available for private use’ during this period even if your employee is:

  • instructed to not use the car
  • asked to take and keep a photographic image of the mileage both before and after a period of furlough
  • unable to physically to return the car or the car cannot be collected from the employee

Where restrictions on movement applies because of coronavirus and prevents the car from being handed back or collected, HMRC will accept that a company car is unavailable in the following circumstances:

  • where the contract has terminated - from the date that the car keys (including tabs or fobs) are returned to the employer or to a third party as instructed by the employer
  • where the contract has not been terminated – after 30 consecutive days from the date that the car keys (including tabs or fobs) are returned to the employer or to a third party as instructed by the employer

The return of keys means that a car cannot be driven in any circumstances even if it is still in the possession of your employee.

We also recognise that following relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, it may take some time to collect cars where contracts have been terminated. As long as your employee continues to have no access to the keys until the car is collected from them, HMRC will still regard the car as being unavailable.

Employee Car Ownership Schemes (ECOS)

Employees who have used ECOS arrangements, including a loan from a third party to purchase a car, may have to return the car at the end of the loan period for its value to be assessed as a final settlement of the loan.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, if your employee has not been able to return the car to the dealership or factory for its assessment, there may be an income tax charge on the amount of the loan still owing.

If the loan period was less than 4 years, it may be possible for your employee to arrange an extension with the loan provider for a few more months. This will cover the period until the car can be returned and the loan settled. If this is done, HMRC will accept that the arrangements do not give rise to the Income Tax charge. If however, the loan is extended beyond 4 years, an Income Tax charge will arise.

Salary sacrifice

Changes in circumstances because of coronavirus are accepted as a lifestyle change which allows salary sacrifice arrangements to be reviewed. If your employee chooses to amend a salary sacrifice arrangement because of coronavirus, you must make sure the change is reflected in the terms and conditions of their employment.

The rules on salary sacrifice changed in April 2017 and for most arrangements entered into before 6 April 2017, these new benefit valuation rules now apply.

The transitional rules apply for a longer period where the benefit is:

  • the provision of a car with emissions of more than 75g CO2/km
  • provided living accommodation
  • the payment of school fees

The new rules will not apply to these types of benefits until 6 April 2021, unless employees vary or renew their arrangements.

An arrangement is not regarded as being varied if the variation of the arrangement is only directly in connection with coronavirus.

Employer provided loans

A salary advance or loan to help your employee at a time of hardship counts as an employment-related loan. Loans provided with a value less than £10,000 in a tax year are non-taxable.

Further guidance on loans provided to employees.

Employees working from home

Check which expenses are taxable if your employee works from home because of coronavirus.

How to report to HMRC

Any expenses or benefits which are related to coronavirus can be reported on your PAYE Settlement Agreement.

If you are currently payrolling benefits in kind, you may continue to report expenses and benefits through your payroll as long as you’ve registered with HMRC before the start of the tax year (6 April). You may also continue to report expenses and benefits through P11D returns.

HMRC expects all P11D and P11D(b) returns to be completed online by 6 July 2020 for the tax year 2019-20, paper options are available for employers unable to file online.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-treat-certain-expenses-and-benefits-provided-to-employees-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Personal liability - Warning for company directors over ‘bounce back’ loans

Small firms have borrowed more than £14bn under the scheme since it was launched on 4 May 2020.

Businesses can borrow up to 25% of their turnover up to a maximum of £50,000. The loans are interest free for the first twelve months and are underwritten by the UK Government.

Company directors don’t need to provide a personal guarantee and the loans should be used to help firms to survive. However, some company directors have considered using the scheme to repay themselves or personal debts.

There is a false assumption that if the company is unable to recover from the impact of Covid-19 and subsequently enters into a formal insolvency process, then responsibility for repaying the loan will remain solely with the company and liability would not be transferred to directors.

However, this will not be the case if directors have acted improperly and breached their fiduciary duties or abused the loan scheme. While wrongful trading provisions have been temporarily suspended in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, other provisions of the Insolvency Act and Companies Act remain in full force and operation.

Directors need to be mindful of potential misconduct and the issue of ‘preference payments’. Bounce back loans can be used to refinance existing liabilities, but great caution needs to be exercised.

A typical scenario is where company debt includes some that is personally guaranteed or personally owed to directors or their associates. If a director chooses to only repay pay debts with a personal link, leaving unsecured creditors unpaid, this would be an act of misfeasance through the making of a preference. An appointed licenced insolvency practitioner would challenge this and it could lead to personal liability for repayment.

If company directors intend to use bounce back loans to repay existing debt, they should remove the risk of inadvertently falling foul of the rules surrounding preference payments. Getting professional advice now adds a layer of protection in the unfortunate event the company subsequently becomes insolvent.

https://resource-centre.co.uk/72/2311/may-2020/covid-19-personal-liability-warning-for-company-directors-over--bounce-back--loans---north-west.asp

Coronavirus support from Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations

The government is working closely with Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations to support the national response to coronavirus.

Below is a list of organisations you can speak with to get advice. Many of these organisations are also happy to respond to non-member queries related to coronavirus.

Many of these websites also include sector-specific guidance and Q&A. This list does not cover all trade associations and business representatives.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-support-from-business-representative-organisations-and-trade-associations

Trade Credit Insurance backed by £10 billion guarantee

Trade Credit Insurance, which provides essential cover to hundreds of thousands of business-to-business transactions, will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees, ministers announced today.

The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, which has been agreed following extensive discussions with the insurance sector, will see the vast majority of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK.

The guarantees will support supply chains and help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic to trade with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they will be protected if a customer defaults or delays on payment.

Business Secretary of State Alok Sharma said:

Trade Credit Insurance is a daily necessity for hundreds of thousands of businesses across the UK – particularly those in non-service sectors such as the manufacturing and construction sectors.

Our £10 billion guarantee gives peace of mind to businesses, allowing them to continue to trade and maintaining liquidity in supply chains. This reinsurance scheme is an important step as we carefully set about firing up our economy as we emerge from the pandemic.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen said:

Billions of pounds of business turnover is supported by Trade Credit Insurance each year. This reinsurance scheme will see the government and insurers working closely together to ensure that the vast majority of this cover remains in place. This means that businesses and supply chains can continue to be protected at this pivotal time as we begin to kick start the economy.

BCC Director General Adam Marshall said:

The government has demonstrated once again that it is listening to the concerns of our business communities.

The launch of a government-backed guarantee to support the provision of trade credit insurance will help ensure that this vital lifeline remains available to businesses during and after this crisis, helping to maintain supply chains and trade.

Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, said:

For most manufacturers, credit insurance is essential – giving them certainty that they will be paid for the orders they deliver. We’re pleased that the government has taken action to jump-start the credit insurance market – which will provide a welcome boost to our nation’s makers as they recover from the COVID crisis.

IoD Head of Europe and Trade Policy Allie Renison said:

These measures are a lifeline for many businesses with nowhere else to turn. To help the economy get up and running again, maintaining confidence in supply chains is crucial, and we are encouraged to see this come as the product of collaboration between government and industry.

CBI Director of Financial Services, Flora Hamilton said:

The new government guarantee to backstop trade credit insurance will be welcome by businesses across the UK. The TCI scheme will support supply chains, enable many to prepare for restart in earnest and bring employees off the job retention scheme and back into work.

This is a very critical step, along with other government financial support, in driving the recovery of the UK.

The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and running until 31 December 2020, with the potential for extension if required.

The scheme will be followed by a joint BEIS/HMT-led review of the Trade Credit Insurance market to ensure it can continue to support businesses in future.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/trade-credit-insurance-backed-by-10-billion-guarantee


02/06/2020

Self-employed get second grant from government

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said self-employed workers across the UK will be able to access a second Grant from the government to cover lost income while the country is in lockdown.

The grants paid out by the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be worth 70% of a self-employed person's average monthly trading profits to cover three months' worth of income.

They will be capped at £6,570.

The scheme so far has been used by 2.6 million people and has paid out £6.8bn in claims to self-employed who have been affected by the impact of coronavirus on the economy.

This is the second and final time grants will be offered, the chancellor said.

The Government offered the first grant to the self-employed in March, paying 80% of average monthly trading profits, capped at £7,500.

No announcement or Grant was made at the Daily press conference regarding Company Directors and those who became self-employed after April 2019.

Changes to Furlough

On Friday 29th May 2020, Rishi Sunak announced the changes that would be made to furlough leave and the CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme). He explained that as from 1st July, there would be a more flexible approach to furlough, to allow for part-time work whilst still benefiting from the scheme.

So, what are the changes to the furlough scheme?

June

From the 1st July, employers will only be able to claim for employees who have been on the furlough scheme for a minimum of 3 weeks previously. This means that, from the 10th June, the scheme will be effectively be closed to employees being furloughed for the first time. Therefore, if you want to take advantage of the scheme going forward, then you will need to furlough any new entrants by this date.

In June, employers will be able to continue claiming 80% of salary up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month – including NI and pension contributions.

July

On 1st July, ‘flexible furlough’ comes into play. Employees who are on furlough now have the ability to return to work on a part-time basis. Any amount of working time or shift pattern can be agreed.

Employees will still receive 80% of their salary up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month. However, employers will need to pay for any hours worked and NI and pension contributions associated with these hours. However, you can claim for hours not worked, up to a maximum of 80% of their salary or £2,500 (gross) per month.

August

From 1st August, the employer is responsible for paying ALL NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked. The rest of the scheme remains the same as July.

September

From 1st September, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 70%. 

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 70% of salary or a maximum of £2,187.50 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 10% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

October

From 1st October, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 60%. 

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 60% of salary or a maximum of £1,875 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 20% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

Redundancies during Furlough

Following the recent government announcements, you will no doubt be starting to think about what your business might look like after lock-down and how you might operate and survive in the future months.

Although it is not pleasant, you may need to consider making some redundancies. As such, we have put together some frequently asked questions, please see below.

At what stage can you start a redundancy process when someone is on furlough leave? Do you have to end their furlough first?

You can start a redundancy process at any stage, including the period when employees are on furlough. Furlough does not have to be ended before starting the redundancy process.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is designed to minimise redundancies, but employers can still make staff redundant during or after furlough. The redundancy process can be commenced at any time provided the correct procedures and consultations are followed.

Will it be unfair if I make an employee redundant rather than placing them on furlough leave?

If the redundancy is solely proposed because of the current situation regarding the Coronavirus, then it is likely to be unfair to not at least thoroughly consider the possibility of furlough rather than making an employee redundant, since such action would potentially be deemed unreasonable in the circumstances. Employees can claim unfair dismissal if they have two or more years’ service.

However, if a redundancy consultation process was ongoing prior to the onset of the Coronavirus crisis, and/or the situation is not affected by the Coronavirus, it is very likely that it will still be possible to fairly dismiss an employee for redundancy, notwithstanding the availability of the scheme.

Instead of making redundancies, can I reduce employee salaries, and change or remove other benefits they receive?

A reduction in pay, change in pay or other terms and conditions, constitutes a change to terms and conditions and therefore consultation should be carried out. 

If an employee doesn’t agree to a change in their salary, and you do go ahead and make the deduction in their pay, you could be at risk of unlawful deduction from wages claims. There is no qualifying period, so it is a day one right. 

However, they may be willing to make these changes on a temporary basis as an alternative to redundancy.

For redundancy consultation do normal timelines apply or is this a special case?

The government has confirmed that the Coronavirus pandemic is unlikely to qualify as a ‘special circumstance’, therefore all current employment law obligations still stand. As such, if redundancies are unavoidable, the safest approach is to follow normal redundancy procedures, consultation and timelines.

Do I need to collectively consult with my employees?

Collective consultation is required if you intend to make 20 or more employees redundant at one establishment within a 90-day period.

If you do, then there is an obligation to follow the government guidelines around collective consultation and the designated timelines are as follows:

  • 20 – 99 redundancies proposed = minimum 30-day consultation period.
  • 100+ redundancies proposed = minimum 45-day consultation period.

The collective consultation should be completed before any notices of termination of employment are served. Failure to consult collectively could result in being instructed to pay additional payments to each individual affected. These are called ‘protective awards’ and could be up to 90 days’ extra pay each.

If you intend to make 19 or less employees redundant, then there are no set timescales around consultation and the redundancy process. The guidance states that this should be a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to allow effective consultation and to follow the redundancy process. Depending on the circumstances, this can be as little as a week (potentially less for someone with short service).

If I need to consult with my employees whilst they are furloughed, how do I do this?

Redundancy consultation does not class as work and therefore employees on furlough can engage in a consultation process without it affecting their furlough leave, or your claim.

Consultation meetings can be held virtually via Skype or Zoom if necessary (provided employees have and can use the requisite technology).

What is redundancy and notice pay calculated on, if an employee has been furloughed?

Redundancy and notice pay should be based on normal contractual pay and not the amount received if they have been furloughed.

What happens to the employees notice period if they are kept on the furlough scheme?

You can keep an employee on furlough (and claim from the CJRS) whilst they ‘work’ their notice. However, you will need to top this up to full pay for the duration of their notice period. 

If you pay notice in lieu, you will not be able to claim this from the CJRS.

Redundancy payments cannot be claimed for under the scheme either.

Can I re-hire employees so that they can benefit from the furlough scheme?

Once notice has expired and an employee’s employment has ended (including entitlement to benefits and holidays), you could choose to re-engage them for the sole purpose of placing them back on furlough and enabling them to claim the furlough allowance from the government. 

The employee’s employment end date would remain the same, but they would not have continuous service, nor would they be entitled to any benefits/accrual of holidays. It is strongly advised that an agreement of this nature is made explicit in a signed agreement with the ex-employee.

Since employees have been furloughed, some of the requirements of the roles have changed. Can I change the role when the employee returns to work?

If the requirements of the role have significantly changed it could constitute a redundancy situation, which would require you to consult and follow the normal redundancy procedures.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

The power of collaboration post-COVID

We’ve entered unprecedented territory in recent weeks, and though the end is not yet in sight, we’ve already learned some heart-warming lessons about what the manufacturing sector can achieve when working together.

No manufacturer has been left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it’s a collapse in demand for some, skyrocketing demand for others, supply chain disruption or responding to social distancing requirements. Businesses have been driven by necessity to co-operate in new and creative ways, to remarkable effect. The way the manufacturing community has come together so rapidly to produce critical supplies for the NHS shows we can achieve extraordinary things through collaboration. 

Once the dust settles, we’ll be able to look back on this experience as proof that collaboration is a powerful tool that will help us navigate through other shared challenges like changing consumer behaviour, EU exit or the looming climate crisis. The benefits of exchanging information, networks and expertise with peers can include not only new commercial opportunities but also lower costs, improved corporate reputation and increased resilience. Lots of companies will come out of the current crisis with a much closer customer and supplier relationships, which will put them in good stead for the future.

“Networking and seeking local and international companies with core competencies to partner with is vital. I have enjoyed the past few weeks working from home researching, networking and developing opportunities for when lockdown is over. All businesses have learnt a lot about themselves.”

Richard Hagan, Director of Rochdale manufacturer Crystal Doors

Here are just a few examples of scenarios where collaboration can be beneficial:

  1. Sharing best practice

Over the last few years, I have been working with a small group of companies who all supply into the automotive sector. They aren’t direct competitors, so we facilitated a meeting so that they could share expertise, visit each other’s factories and learn from each other’s experience. As any MD of a small manufacturer will tell you, it can be a lonely job, so any opportunity to learn from others in your industry should be grabbed with both hands.

  1. Sharing assets and materials

Most manufacturers live on large industrial estates but, despite the huge diversity of activity on their doorstep, they often have little contact with their neighbours. At the very least, this is a missed opportunity to reduce costs by sharing useful assets such as machinery or warehouse capacity. I’ve seen a great example of this on an estate in Horwich, where a company offers its forklift truck ramp as a rentable shared asset across the estate.

Neighbours can even find new uses for each other’s waste material. In Trafford Park for example, rejected cornflakes from Kellogg’s are being used as a raw ingredient by nearby brewery Seven Bro7hers. There’s something we can all drink to!

  1. Micro networks

There are also good examples of companies working together for common advantage, for example in negotiations with landlords or the pooling of resources to expand into new markets. In one example I know of, a group of neighbouring companies, who had recognised a synergy between them, established an informal arrangement to submit joint bids for contracts that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to tender for.

We are currently developing several micro networks to help businesses with non-competitive similarities find solutions and opportunities during the Coronavirus crisis. Each network brings together a small number of manufacturers, who meet via Zoom to discuss their most pressing challenges and share learning.

  1. Buyers’ consortia

A slightly more formal approach to collaboration is using the power of collective bargaining to bring down prices on materials, products or utilities. A good local example is Greater Manchester Solar Together – a group-buying scheme set up by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to help homeowners and businesses purchase solar panels at a more competitive price.

  1. Knowledge transfer

Formal arrangements to access specialist skills or R&D expertise, such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), are one of the more obvious examples of collaboration between organisations. GC Business Growth Hub’s partnership with Greater Manchester’s four universities and help with Innovation Vouchers makes us a great portal for these opportunities. For example, we’ve helped Trafford-based M&I Materials team up with scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University to provide new analytical insight into the ceramic disks they manufacture. In Rochdale, we helped GJD Manufacturing secure grant funding for a KTP to develop new technology with the same university. More recently we also connected MMU’s PrintCity with Merc Aerospace. Working in partnership with the Hub’s Innovation team, we arranged for the transfer of 3D object File and 3D Printer Settings to enable Merc to manufacture 3D printed face shield main head band mask components. As a result, vital mask components were delivered to the NHS within days.

The rise of digital technology and servitisation in modern manufacturing makes knowledge transfer all the more important. It can be hard to know how to get started with digitalisation or service innovation on your own, so build relationships with market disruptors and niche experts. One way to do this is to join Made Smarter, which offers student placements to bring the latest digital skills and insight into your business. You don’t necessarily need to take the academic route though – knowledge transfer can be B2B as well.

Become a better leader

As well as opening up new commercial opportunities, collaboration can also make you a better leader. When we bring SMEs together at roundtables, they’re always surprised by how much they end up learning from each other. No matter what your dilemma is, the chances are someone else has already been through it, so surrounding yourself with peers who can speak from experience is invaluable.

For a more private, one-to-one collaborative relationship with a successful business leader, our Mentoring for Growth programme can open the door to some of the most successful manufacturers in the North West – including Siemens, BAE Systems and GSK.

Nurture your network

Of course, collaboration isn’t straightforward. It requires strong relationships, long-term co-operation and mutual trust, not to mention clear agreements on things like liability and IP. It also requires nurturing – promising early conversations can often fizzle out if lines of communications aren’t left open.

https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/manufacturing/resources/blog/2020/05/the-power-of-collaboration-post-covid

Apply for the coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund

Small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Scheme.

What you get

You can get a grant of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000.

Eligibility

You’re potentially eligible if your business:

  • is based in England
  • has fewer than 50 employees
  • has fixed building costs such as rent
  • was trading on 11 March 2020
  • has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus

We’ve asked local councils to prioritise businesses such as:

  • small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, such as units in industrial parks or incubators
  • regular market traders
  • bed and breakfasts paying council tax instead of business rates
  • charity properties getting charitable business rates relief, which are not eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief

Local councils have discretion about how to prioritise this funding. Please check with your council for details of their scheme.

You cannot apply if your business is in administration, insolvent or has received a striking-off notice.

If you’re already claiming funding

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under another government grant scheme, such as:

  • Small Business Grant Fund
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant
  • Fisheries Response Fund
  • Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme
  • Zoos Support Fund
  • Dairy Hardship Fund

You’re still eligible if you’ve applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

Businesses that apply for the discretionary grants scheme can still apply for coronavirus-related loans if they’re eligible.

If you already get state aid

The discretionary grants fund counts towards state aid.

Payments of £10,000 or less count towards the total de minimis state aid you’re allowed to get over a 3 year period - €200,000. If you have reached that threshold, you may still be eligible for funding under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework.

Payments of £25,000 count as state aid under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework. The limit for the framework is €800,000.

Your local council will ask you to complete a declaration confirming that:

  • you will not exceed the relevant state aid threshold
  • you were not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019. This applies only to the COVID-19 Temporary Framework

How to apply

Visit your local council’s website to find out how to apply:

Find the website for your local council.

What happens next

Your local council will run an application process and decide whether to offer you a grant.

You do not have to pay the grant back but it will be taxable. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-coronavirus-local-authority-discretionary-grants-fund

New corporate insolvency & governance bill – COVID-19 condenses 12 month process into 6 weeks

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill (CIGB) was published on 20th May and is designed to help businesses in difficulty that need to restructure, to increase their chances of survival during these turbulent times.

Whilst wide-ranging reform of the insolvency legislation had been planned for some time, the unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the government to bring the timetable forward and squeeze a process that would normally take over a year into just six weeks.

The resulting 240 page Bill contains both temporary and permanent legislation that should support a culture of business rescue and restructuring during the current unusual times and beyond.

It should be noted, that given the speed with which the legislation was pulled together, the government has made it clear that it is likely to remain a work in progress with additions, amendments and corrections expected over time. Furthermore there are a number of areas where the government appears to have left it to the Courts to resolve any issues which are not made clear by the new legislation. Therefore trade creditors, landlords, lenders and directors will all need to take advice on their respective positions when operating with businesses in distress during the next few months. 

The legislation is likely to be approved at its reading in Parliament on 3rd June and, once given the green light by the House of Lords, could receive Royal assent at the end of June.

The Insolvency Service, who helped draft the legislation, have made it clear that, given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuing economic challenges it is throwing up, the temporary measures are almost certain to be extended beyond the summer.

We’ve summarised the key elements of the Bill below – full details can be seen here.

Permanent reforms

Company moratorium

  • Allows directors of a struggling company (some companies, such as financial services firms, are excluded) to create a protective breathing space while they attempt to put a restructuring/turnaround plan together
  • Known as a “debtor in possession” procedure, the directors remain in control, although their actions are overseen by a “monitor” who must be a licensed Insolvency Practitioner. The monitor’s role is to assess the viability of the plan as well as providing a safeguard to ensure that the directors are acting in the creditors’ interests generally
  • The moratorium lasts for 20 business days and can be extended by a further 20 by the directors or up to a year if creditors or the Court agree
  • No legal action can be taken while the moratorium is in force but costs incurred during the moratorium period have to be paid
  • Whilst it is intended to be a survival tool by giving directors control, there is no requirement to seek the prior approval of a secured creditor such as a bank or asset-based lender. The bank’s security cannot ultimately be prejudiced and they would still have the right to enforce their security should they wish after the moratorium has expired, but there may be concerns that they could be excluded from key strategic decisions

Restructuring plan

  • The new legislation allows a company in difficulty, or its creditors or members, to propose a restructuring plan, similar to the existing Scheme of Arrangement, as an alternative rescue option
  • Provided a Court approves the plan as being fair and equitable and ensures creditors are no worse off than the next best alternative then it will bind both secured and unsecured creditors (unlike a CVA), including dissenting classes of creditors and members – this is known as a cross-class cramdown
  • In this way, it is hoped companies can restructure financially and avoid insolvency

Termination / “Ipso Facto” clauses

  • New legislation has been introduced to prevent suppliers of goods and services under a contract from terminating supply or amending terms to increase prices where a company enters an insolvency or restructuring process or implements a moratorium. This is similar to the existing rules for utility companies
  • It only applies where a formal contract is in place (therefore not to ad hoc orders) and there is a current exemption for suppliers defined as small companies under the Companies Act (maximum of £10.2m turnover, £5.1m balance sheet or average of 50 employees)
  • It also excludes financial services providers such as banks
  • Supplies during the insolvency period must be paid for
  • Suppliers can apply to Court if they feel it causes them undue hardship

TEMPORARY MEASURES

As noted previously, a number of temporary measures have been brought in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst these provisions are due to run until 30th June (or one month after the Bill comes into force) it is expected, particularly in light of the recent extension of the Job Retention Scheme until October, that these measures will also be extended.

Suspension of wrongful trading liability

  • As has been widely reported, effective from 1st March to 30th June (unless extended), the wrongful trading rules have been suspended. The threat of personal liability contained within this previous legislation acted as a deterrent to directors from continuing to trade where they had no reasonable prospect of avoiding insolvency. The removal of this threat now allows them to do their best to save a company in these unprecedented times
  • It should be noted that, although the wrongful trading provisions have been temporarily removed, other similar Insolvency Act provisions covering fraudulent trading, transactions at an undervalue and preferences remain. Furthermore it does not relieve directors of a general fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of creditors, so care must still be taken. The best guidance is always to document key decisions and take independent professional advice

Statutory demands and Winding Up Petitions

  • The new law is intended to temporarily prevent aggressive creditors from using the threat of legal action to enforce payment of a debt at a time of mass financial uncertainty
  • It voids statutory demands made between 1st March and 30th June (unless extended)
  • It also restricts the issue of Winding Up Petitions from 27th April to 30th June (unless extended)
  • It should be noted that this generally only relates to situations where a non-payment is due to COVID-19 and there have been a number of legal cases recently which found in favour of the creditor because the Court felt COVID-19 was being wrongly used as an excuse not to pay a debt that had been outstanding for many months

Companies House formalities

A number of other changes have been introduced in relation to compliance with Companies House regulations:

  • Those companies that are required to hold an AGM or General Meeting are now allowed to do so by “other means”. This has been applied retrospectively from 26th March therefore any meetings held since then which, in order to observe the social distancing guidance, did not technically comply with the rules, would not be in breach of the company’s constitution
  • Shareholders’ rights to vote are unaffected but they may not be able to vote in person
  • Extension of certain filing deadlines as the government recognise that the current COVID-19 challenges may make it difficult for companies to file statutory documents such as accounts on time

https://www.lclifecycle.co.uk/new-corporate-insolvency-governance-bill-covid-19-condenses-12-month-process-into-six-weeks/

Apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The scheme helps medium and large sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £200 million.

The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender.

Eligibility

You can apply for a loan if your business:

You need to show that:

  • your business would be viable were it not for the pandemic
  • your business has been affected by coronavirus
  • the loan will enable you to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty resulting from coronavirus

If you’re borrowing more than £50 million you must agree to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan. Check the eligibility requirements.

Who cannot apply

Businesses from any sector can apply, except:

  • banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • building societies
  • public-sector bodies
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

What you can get

You can apply for:

  • loans
  • revolving credit facilities (including overdrafts)
  • invoice finance
  • asset finance

A lender can provide up to 25% of your annual turnover. The maximum amount you can borrow is £200 million.

How long the loan is for

Finance is available from 3 months to 3 years.

How to apply

There are 12 lenders taking part in the scheme including all the main retail banks. You should approach a suitable lender yourself via the lender’s website.

You’ll need to tell the lender:

  • the amount you’d like to borrow
  • what the money is for
  • how long you’d like to pay it back

Supporting documents

You’ll need to provide documents that show you can afford to repay the loan.

These may include:

  • management accounts
  • cash flow forecast
  • business plan
  • historic accounts
  • details of assets

The documents you need will depend on the lender. A loan could still be an option even if you do not have everything listed here.

The lender will check that the loan is:

  • for a suitable business purpose
  • affordable for you
  • the right type of finance for your needs

The lender will decide whether to offer you a loan or another type of finance. Your business will be responsible for repaying 100% of the amount you borrow.

Find a lender

If the lender turns you down

If one lender turns you down, you can apply to other lenders in the scheme.

You may want to consider using a broker to find the right type of finance for your needs, or do your own research using the British Business Bank’s Finance Guide.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-coronavirus-large-business-interruption-loan-scheme


28/05/2020

5 tips for leading your company out of a crisis

Getting out of a crisis is difficult and requires extraordinary measures and great efforts from a company and its people. Since we’re here to help, we’ve listed 5 tips for leading your company out of a crisis or turnaround situation. Read on and make smart use of these tips.

  1. Identify (and solve) the problem(s)

How do you know that your company is in trouble? Well, depending on the situation, there are more than 25 different signs of potential distress – as you can see below. Most of the time, troubled companies are dealing with multiple signs or problems at the same time, caused by internal and external factors (i.e. the current COVID-19 crisis) interacting together. Identifying these signs and solving the underlying problems is one of the things you should do first when you strive to lead a company out of a crisis.

Distress signals

  • Declining or negative cash flow;
  • Declining stock price;
  • Regulatory inquiries;
  • Large or unplanned workforce reductions;
  • Increase in outstanding accounts payable;
  • Resignations of key finance staff;
  • Management turnover;
  • Shrinking EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) margin.
  1. Find (and retain) talented people

One of the (few) good sides of a crisis is that the opportunity arises to find the next level of talent in an organisation. As a (turnaround) manager, you should look beyond the leadership team for people with institutional knowledge. They know all the ins and outs of the company and are essential to realising the impact of potential changes on the business. Be aware though, in many cases, they are the dissatisfied ones, unhappy with the company’s performance. But because of this, they are willing to point out the painful truths – and that’s just what needs to be done on the road to leading a company out of a crisis.

You should also keep an eye out for people that want to add value and impact. In most cases, you won’t find these people sitting around the table at the beginning, but two or three levels down – waiting for an opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves.

Retaining these people isn’t always about money and bonuses: it’s about figuring out their individual needs and get them involved.

  1. Concentrate on cash

In general, the board and management of most companies focus on complex, long-term metrics like EBIT and turnover. There’s nothing wrong with that, but unpleasant surprises are waiting when no one is concentrating on cash, especially during a crisis. So, the opposite needs to be done to keep a company financially healthy. The best way of doing this is by finding out which investments are making or burning cash, and by subsequently bringing your business back to its fundamental element of success. This makes it easier to see the actions needed to get back on track in terms of cash flow and steer out of the crisis you’re in.

As a company, you need forecasts with a mid to long term view to be able to focus on cash and avoid cash flow-related surprises

By the way: watching your bank balance isn’t the right way of keeping track of cash. As a company, you need forecasts with a mid to long term view to be able to focus on cash and avoid cash flow-related surprises. Focussing on an investment with a five-year return while money goes out the door, isn’t the right way either, so concentrating on cash flow is vital.

  1. Treat every turnaround like a crisis

Most companies without a crisis mindset, react the same to change: they focus on avoiding risks, and therefore they take small steps instead of leaps to get something done. There’s nothing wrong with this approach in a normal situation, but when in a real crisis, significant action is needed. Companies that treat every turnaround like a crisis and thus have that crisis mindset are willing to try the bold things that could change the trajectory of a company.

If that shows that you’re not moving with – or outpacing – the rest of the industry, then your business plan may be out-of-date

  1. Dare to criticize your own business plan

The best thing you can do to avoid distress is to periodically review your business plans and see how the company scores on operational and market performance. Find out where you stand as a company using essential financial and cash flow milestones, and do the same concerning your business and competitors. If that shows that you’re not moving with – or outpacing – the rest of the industry, then your business plan may be out-of-date. Last but not least: don’t forget to look back at your business performance over the past to identify any trends. If you keep missing targets, ask why and most of all: be critical.

Contact us

Contact us and get in touch with our expert business advisors if you need (more) support with leading your company out of a crisis.

Sustainability offers Coronavirus protection

Evidence is emerging that companies with strong environmental and social credentials are more likely to be resilient to the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to research from HSBC, shares of companies focused on climate change or environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues have largely outperformed the market during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Share performance

Ashim Paun, co-head of ESG research at HSBC, said ESG factors were important in understanding how companies and sectors are exposed to the Coronavirus crisis.

“Our core ESG conviction is that issuers succeed long-term, and hence deliver shareholder returns when they create value for all stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, the environment, and wider society,” he explained.

“When crises like COVID-19 manifest, particularly with social and environmental causes and implications, investors can see ESG as a defensive characteristic.”

‘Correlation between sustainability and risk management’

As well as positive investor sentiment, companies that are making progress to improve sustainability within their supply chains are also likely to be more resilient to the supply disruptions associated with COVID-19.

Speaking at a procurement event in London in March, Jim Carter, commercial director at the Ministry of Defence said: “If you think about coronavirus and the impact on your supply chain, suppliers who have better engagement on sustainability issues can manage the risk on coronavirus as well. There is a correlation between suppliers who lean into the sustainability agenda and an ability to manage macro risks.”

https://www.gmchamber.co.uk/news-opinions/member-news/sustainability-offers-coronavirus-protection

Small businesses voice cashflow fears as UK economy prepares to open shop

Thousands of small businesses say they are firefighting immediate concerns such as cashflow pressures and resuming operations safely ahead of lockdown lift.

Small businesses are seeing their survival instincts kick-in amid fears over their ability to access cash required to operate post-lockdown.

The latest research from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and The Corporate Finance Network (CFN) highlights the growing number of SMEs seeking reassurance on how to manage their cashflow as the UK comes out of the Covid-19 lockdown.

ACCA and CFN’s Weekly SME Health Tracker surveyed accountancy practitioners advising 1,800 small businesses. They revealed clients’ three main fears were the ability to manage cashflow pressures, implementing the practicalities of social distancing guidelines at work, and the late payment of invoices.

Key short-term findings from this week’s tracker show:

  • 23% of SMEs are unable to access cash to last another two weeks of lockdown
  • 14% of SMEs won’t have access cash to last four weeks of lockdown
  • 5% intend to dissolve, up from 4% on last week’s findings

Concerns were raised by companies on their ability to access cash from the government’s financial support schemes. The strain on firms continues: 89% of practitioners report SME clients are feeling more stressed, 78% have worse mental health and a worrying 11% are suicidal.

Long-term decisions are increasingly being put on the backburner with 60% of companies revealing they are deferring tax liabilities. However, one encouraging sign saw 64% believe these can be met within six months.

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, says it appears SMEs are cautious to take on more debt: ‘Members have revealed their frustration with the loan schemes, access to cash is not happening quickly enough meaning cashflow is weak. We’re also finding complications with financial support schemes such as the turning away of directors from the furlough scheme because they receive annual PAYE, despite these payments being eligible. Issues such as these are compounding SME’s concerns in the immediate term around the access to cash they had assumed would be available.

‘ACCA maintains loan schemes should be extended to any FCA regulated provider and has suggested immediate liquidity support could be provided to CBILS applicants based on a proportion of normal operating revenue. Firms are prolonging their future planning demonstrated by the rise in tax liability deferrals. Through our recent roundtables, we’ve heard from manufacturing and hospitality industries that there isn’t the level of confidence to move forward smoothly and efficiently.’

Kirsty McGregor, founder of the CFN, said: ‘The release of lockdown will be the riskiest time for most owner-managed businesses as they are feeling the pinch from all sides – they are unable to generate cashflow quickly due to their customers’ lack of credit; they are incurring additional costs in their own premises due to social distancing or PPE requirements and they are being chased for old debts themselves, putting their relationships with suppliers under pressure. It is no wonder that many business owners are choosing to hunker down for a while longer rather than stick their head up above the parapet just yet.’

https://www.thecfn.org.uk/small-businesses-voice-cashflow-fears-as-uk-economy-prepares-to-open-shop/

Greater Manchester’s Mayor supports Stockport Covid-19 Business Recovery initiative

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has thanked Stockport for its innovative approach to supporting businesses in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.

As lockdown put the brakes on the local economy, Stockport accelerated its plans to recovery including forming an economic resilience support group and launching two websites. Stockport-JobsMatch.co.uk provides a free service for employers and candidates and SKBusinessRecovery.co.uk, an online portal providing a one-stop resource of support, an online peer-to-peer forum and free access to local business leaders – the Stockport Recovery Board – to help business owners navigate through the recovery process. 

Following the launch of the SK Business Recovery, Andy Burnham commented reiterated his commitment to supporting the town: 

Stockport Council are a brilliant example of a council that forges strong relationships with its business community and we want to support them in any way that we can.

“The launch of the Stockport Business Recovery website is a fantastic resource giving people information, pointers to where they can access support. It’s that kind of practical help that’s going to be needed at this moment in time.

“Well done to everyone at Stockport Council, good luck to everyone in the Stockport business community. We are behind you; you know we believe in the town, it’s why we’ve launched the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation. The town has got a great future and, at Greater Manchester, we’re all right behind you.”

In addition to providing up-to-date information, the Stockport Recovery Board of local business leaders, are hosting webinars to provide guidance and support to fellow business owners and leaders as they begin to rebuild their businesses and the local economy.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/greater-manchesters-mayor-supports-stockport-covid-19-business-recovery-initiative/

Working and childcare during the Covid-19 pandemic

With schools closed to the majority of children during the Covid-19 pandemic, many parents now working from home are having to balance childcare and their jobs.

For many working parents, life has changed as we know it due to the current pandemic.

The Government announced on 10 May that a return to school is imminent for some children, with certain year groups to start back on 1 June. However, this did not cover all age groups and some local authorities have decided they will not be following the Government’s guidance in any event. Therefore, it is likely that many children will be at home for the foreseeable future.

One issue which therefore seems to be causing problems is that many parents / carers are being expected to carry out their jobs, with no consideration of the fact that they also need to look after their children due to nurseries and schools being closed. Not only dealing with homeschooling but everything that comes from the children being at home, such as feeding them, cleaning and keeping them entertained.

So where does that leave working parents / carers? The Prime Minister has said that employers must be understanding, which is unhelpful to both employers and employees, so what are the options available?

  1. Flexible Working

You can ask your employer to alter your working arrangements to allow you to continue to work and care for your child/children at the same time, or alternate/share the responsibility with your partner/spouse. This could include allowing you to work from home or altering your hours / days of work. 

The Government have stated that wherever possible, employee’s should be allowed to work from home. Many employers are going further than this by allowing staff to reduce their days, start work earlier, log on to do work in at weekends or in the evening so that they can balance home and work life better, in the current situation.

If you think this would be beneficial, the first step is to have a discussion with your employer to explain the situation. Any agreement should then be recorded in writing so that there is no confusion as to what is expected and when, and should also be noted as a temporary arrangement only, perhaps for as long as schools and nurseries remain closed, or until the Government say people should return to work, as normal.

If your employer is being resistant, you do have the right to make a formal flexible working request. This would be a permanent change to your working arrangements, unless agreed in writing that it is only on a temporary basis. 

  1. Furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“the CJRS”)

The Government guidance states that employees can request to be furloughed under the CJRS if they are unable to work due to childcare and/or caring commitments. It goes further to state that employees can also ask to be furloughed if they need to stay at home with someone who is shielding.

In these circumstances, your employer can claim for 80% of your wages up to £2,500 per month. They can chose to “top up” the extra so you still receive 100% but they do not have to do so. If you are furloughed, you continue to remain employed by your employer but cannot carry out any work for them. Your employer may ask you to take annual leave during your furlough leave and if you do so, this should be paid at your normal pay (100%).

Unfortunately, whilst you can request to be furloughed, this is not an absolute right and an employer does not have to agree to the request.

  1. Annual Leave

You can ask to use any accrued annual leave, to mean that you have days off each week, or that your working days are shorter.

  1. Dependant’s Leave

You can request to a reasonable amount of time off where necessary for anyone who relies on you for care, to deal with unforeseen or emergency situations. The closure of schools and nurseries, or older relatives not being able to help with childcare would fall into these categories.

Whilst it is normally taken for short periods of time, without any alternatives available at this present time, there is an argument to say that it should last as long as schools/nurseries remain closed and other family members / friends cannot assist. The leave can be taken for a few hours a day, or in blocks of time and should not be refused, given at present it is likely to be both reasonable and necessary for parents / carers to need the time off. 

This type of leave is usually unpaid unless your employer has a policy in place which provides for you to be paid. 

  1. Parental Leave

Parental leave is available to all employees who have 1 years’ continuous service, who have children under 18 years of age. You can take 4 weeks’ leave per child, per year and must be taken in blocks of 1 week. 

You must give 21 days’ notice (albeit this can be shorter by agreement) and unfortunately, unlike dependant’s leave, an employer can refuse a request for parental leave or postpone it where there would be disruption to their business if it were allowed.

Again, this type of leave is usually unpaid unless your employer has a policy in place which provides for you to be paid. 

  1. Unpaid Leave

Some employers are agreeing that employees can take unpaid leave for as long as necessary in order to look after their children. Your employment would continue throughout and the terms of the leave down to agreement with your employer, for example it may be paid/unpaid.

  1. Sick Leave

If you or anyone you live with is suffering from or has symptoms of COVID-19 or have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111, you should self-isolate. 

From 13 March, employees and workers who are self-isolating must receive at least Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”) from the first day they’re absent from work. You may be entitled to enhanced sick pay if your employer has a policy in place which provides for the same.

Most employers are being sensible and understanding, given that even they themselves appreciate that their employees are in this position through no fault of their own and have very few options available to them. 

That said, there are certain rogue employers who are not being helpful and whilst the above list highlights that there are options available, more certainty is needed as to the rights and protection of working parents / carers. If your employer is refusing to furlough you or consider alternatives for you at this time then we would suggest you take legal advice, given that they may be grounds for a grievance complaint to be raised or, in the worst cases, Tribunal claims, such as indirect sex discrimination or constructive dismissal. 

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-working-and-childcare-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/


26/05/2020

Economic Indicators and updated government measures

Leading indicators including; financial markets, crude oil prices, transport numbers are all increasing, showing a slow move toward recovery. However, overall electricity consumption remains lower.

Real GDP

The ONS has released data showing that March is down by 5.8% when compared to the same month last year. Q1 is down 2% when compared to the same period last year. This is the largest quarterly decline since the financial crisis.

IBISWorld predicts Real GDP Growth to decline by 13.9% in 2020-21. Assuming a three month lockdown period from March and a three month recovery period thereafter.

Accommodation & Food Service Industries

Most affected industries:

  • Hotels
  • Full-service restaurants
  • Pubs & Bars
  • Cafes & Coffee Shops

Pub operators are calling on the government to relax the two metre social distancing rule to allow for pubs and bars to open as soon as possible. There are also calls for outdoor spaces in pubs and restaurants to be opened. The start of July has been earmarked as the earliest point that these businesses will be allowed to open.

Real Estate

Many operators in the industry have now started to reopen whilst social distancing measures still need to be implemented for the foreseeable future.

Residential house prices are expected to fall, despite an increase in April due to diminished supply. Savills expect this fall to be approximately 7% whereas Lloyds Bank have given a worse case scenario of a 23% decrease. Lower house prices feed through into some construction related industries, so a knock on effect is expected.

Financial Services

The average monthly FTSE 100 index has seen a slight uptick due to relaxed social distancing measures and a slow return to work although still remains well below pre-Coronavirus levels.

Negative interest rates have been introduced by certain markets and therefor, return rates of investors have also been impacted. This was seen in Europe after the financial crisis and has been undertaken as a bounce-back measure.

Updated Government Measures

The UK furlough scheme has now been extended until the end of October. Employers will be asked to contribute towards furloughed worker salaries from August.

£84 million in funding announced for projects working on Coronavirus vaccines.

Testing eligibility criteria has been expanded on 18th May to all those over the age of five that are showing symptoms.

Minding your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

Infectious disease pandemics like coronavirus (COVID-19) can be worrying. This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this.

How it might affect your mental health

The spread of coronavirus is a new and challenging event. Some people might find it more worrying than others. Medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus. Try to remember this when you feel worried.

Most people’s lives will change in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in time, it will pass.

You may notice some of the following:

  • increased anxiety
  • feeling stressed
  • finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others
  • becoming irritable more easily
  • feeling insecure or unsettled
  • fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus
  • having trouble sleeping
  • feeling helpless or a lack of control
  • having irrational thoughts

If you are taking any prescription medications, make sure you have enough.

How to mind your mental health during this time

Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is important. Here are some ways you can do this.

We also have guides on:

Stay informed but set limits for news and social media

The constant stream of social media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause you to feel worried. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumours. Use trustworthy and reliable sources to get your news.

Read up-to-date, factual information on coronavirus in Ireland here.

On social media, people may talk about their own worries or beliefs. You don’t need to make them your own. Too much time on social media may increase your worry and levels of anxiety. Consider limiting how much time you spend on social media.

If you find the coverage on coronavirus is too intense for you, talk it through with someone close or get support.

Keep up your healthy routines

Your routine may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day.

It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress. You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing.

For example, you could try to:

Stay connected to others

During times of stress, friends and families can be a good source of support. It is important to keep in touch with them and other people in your life.

If you need to restrict your movements or self-isolate, try to stay connected to people in other ways, for example:

  • e-mail
  • social media
  • video calls
  • phone calls
  • text messages

Many video calling apps allow you to have video calls with multiple people at the same time.

Remember that talking things through with someone can help lessen worry or anxiety. You don't have to appear to be strong or to try to cope with things by yourself.

Try to anticipate distress and support each other

It is understandable to feel vulnerable or overwhelmed reading or hearing news about the outbreak.

Acknowledge these feelings. Remind yourself and others to look after your physical and mental health.

Smoking, drinking and eating for comfort

If you smoke or drink, try to avoid doing this any more than usual. It won’t help in the long-term.

Eating habits can often be linked to your emotions. You may turn to food for comfort during this pandemic. Long-term comfort eating can lead to weight gain and affect your health. It’s important to be able to recognise and separate out your emotions from your eating.

Read more about how to eat well.

Don’t make assumptions

Don’t judge people or make assumptions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. We are all in this together.

Online and phone supports

Face-to-face services are limited at the moment because of the coronavirus outbreak. But some services are providing online and phone services.

Find mental health supports and services that can help during COVID-19 outbreak

If you are using mental health services for an existing mental health condition

If things get difficult, it can be helpful to have a plan to help you get through.

Things you can do:

  • have a list of numbers of mental health service and relatives or friends you can call if you need support
  • keep taking any medication and continue to fill your prescription with support from your GP or psychiatrist
  • continue with any counselling or psychotherapy session you have
  • limit your news intake and only use trusted sources of information
  • practice relaxation techniques and breathing exercises

If your condition gets worse, contact your mental health team or GP.

If you have an intellectual disability

If you have an intellectual disability, you may feel more worried or sad because of coronavirus. Staying at home could be difficult for you. You could also be worried about your family or those close to you.

It is important to take care of yourself. Try to keep a routine, shower every day and eat healthy food

Follow the advice to stay at home. You can keep in touch with people you trust over the phone or the internet.

Read advice about supporting someone with special needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

For more advice on minding your mental health visit inclusionireland.ie

It is also important to prevent spreading the virus. For information on how to do this, read the HSE Coronavirus Easy-Read Information Booklet.

OCD and coronavirus

If you have OCD, you may develop an intense fear of:

  • catching coronavirus
  • causing harm to others
  • things not being in order

Fear of being infected by the virus may mean you become obsessed with:

  • hand hygiene
  • cleanliness
  • avoiding certain situations, such as using public transport

Washing your hands

The compulsion to wash your hands or clean may get stronger. If you have recovered from this type of compulsion in the past, it may return.

Follow the advice above. Wash your hands properly and often, but you do not need to do more than recommended.

Read more about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms, treatment and getting help.

https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/covid-19/minding-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html

New Covid-19 business recovery website – helping Stockport get back to work

As Stockport’s business community prepares for recovery post-coronavirus, a new website – www.skbusinessrecovery.co.uk is helping to support businesses through the phases of recovery.

The new website provides a portal to a wealth of information and support tools to help businesses quickly navigate their way through the complexities brought about as a result of the coronavirus. It has been designed to help businesses and the economy recover from the considerable impact of Covid-19, including a forum where users can seek advice,  share experiences and discuss ideas. 

The ‘SK Recovery’ website is also a platform to showcase innovation, where businesses have been inspired to revise their business models, to look for opportunities, to trial new ideas and to launch new products. 

The website provides access to a valuable resource normally only available to those who have the means to secure an experienced and expensive executive board. The Stockport Recovery Support Board, a team of experienced professionals, are on hand to provide expert guidance via a regular webinar and to support businesses to develop their recovery plan.

The site also share ideas on how to manage the crisis on a day-to-day basis, and to build recovery for the future as the borough moves through the various phases returning to a new normal.

Cllr Elise Wilson, leader of Stockport Council, said:

“In a short space of time the coronavirus has dramatically affected the way we live our lives. This has left people feeling worried and businesses of all shapes and sizes have been left uncertain about their future.

“To help out, we've joined forces with businesses in Stockport to create a website for our business community. The SK recovery website will provide advice from experienced and well respected business leaders and contain forums where businesses can support each other.

“Our long term recovery lies upon our ability to help each other so collectively we can continue to deliver for everyone.”

Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said:

“Our recovery is going to be shaped around supporting Stockport businesses and within it, the local community.

The website will allow local businesses to develop closer links with one another, which can then support buying and using each other’s services.

“This is essential. By doing this, we can help ensure an>y economic benefits are retained within Stockport so we bounce back from this crisis strongly and begin to 'build back better'.

“Alongside this, we are developing our longer-term economic recovery plan that will ensure Stockport remains one of the best places to invest and do business in."

For more information, visit https://skbusinessrecovery.co.uk/

YouTube link to comment from Leader of Stockport Council, Cllr Elise Wilson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoRRDER3kn8&feature=youtu.be

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to your employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

How to use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees' coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Before you start

You’ll need to:

Work out your claim period

You can claim for multiple pay periods and employees at the same time.

To complete your claim you’ll need the start and end dates of the claim period which is the:

  • start date of the earliest pay period you’re claiming for - if the pay period started before 13 March you’ll need to use 13 March as the start date
  • end date of the most recent pay period you’re claiming for - this must be on or before the date you make your claim (because you can only claim for SSP paid in arrears)

What you’ll need

You’ll need:

  • the number of employees you are claiming for
  • start and end dates of your claim period
  • the total amount of coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay you have paid to your employees for the claim period - this should not exceed the weekly rate of SSP that is set
  • your Government Gateway user ID and password that you got when you registered for PAYE Online - if you do not have this find out how to get your lost user ID
  • your employer PAYE reference number
  • the contact name and phone number of someone we can contact if we have queries
  • your UK bank or building society account details (only provide account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted) including:
    • bank or building society account number (and roll number if it has one)
    • sort code
    • name on the account
    • your address linked to your bank or building society account

Records you must keep

You must keep records of Statutory Sick Pay that you’ve paid and want to claim back from HMRC.

You must keep the following records for 3 years after the date you receive the payment for your claim:

  • the dates the employee was off sick
  • which of those dates were qualifying days
  • the reason they said they were off work - if they had symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or they were shielding
  • the employee’s National Insurance number

You can choose how you keep records of your employees’ sickness absence. HMRC may need to see these records if there’s a dispute over payment of SSP.

You’ll need to print or save your state aid declaration (from your claim summary) and keep this until 31 December 2024.

How to claim

If you use an agent who is authorised to do PAYE Online for you, they will be able to claim on your behalf. You should speak to your agent about whether they are providing this service.

If you make multiple claims, the claim periods can overlap.

Online services may be slow during busy times. Check if there are any problems with this service.

Claim now

Employers who are unable to claim online should have received a letter on an alternative way to claim. Contact HMRC if you have not received a letter and are unable to make any eligible claims online.

After you’ve claimed

Your claim will be checked, and if valid, paid into the account you supplied within 6 working days.

HMRC will check claims and take appropriate action to withhold or recover payments found to be dishonest or inaccurate. Where employers knowingly and deliberately provide false or misleading information to benefit from the claim, HMRC will apply penalties of up to £3000.

We will contact you using the details you provided if we have any queries about the claim.

Do not contact HMRC unless it has been more than 10 working days since you have made your claim and you have not received it or been contacted by us within that time.

Other help you can get

Get help online

Use HMRC’s digital assistant to find more information about the coronavirus support schemes.

Contacting HMRC

We are receiving very high numbers of calls. Contacting HMRC unnecessarily puts our essential public services at risk during these challenging times.

You can contact HMRC about the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme if you cannot get the help you need online.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-your-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers

Travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak

This guide will help you understand how to travel safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in England. It provides guidance for walking, cycling, using private vehicles (for example cars and vans), and travelling by taxis and public transport (for example trains, buses, coaches and ferries).

You should avoid using public transport where possible. Instead try to walk, cycle, or drive. If you do travel, thinking carefully about the times, routes and ways you travel will mean we will all have more space to stay safe.

Is your journey necessary?

To help keep yourself and your fellow passengers safe, you should not travel if you:

Before you travel, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can, stay local. Try to reduce your travel. This will help keep the transport network running and allow people who need to make essential journeys to travel. You can reduce your travel by:

  • working from home where possible
  • shopping less frequently and shopping locally

Walking and cycling

Walking and cycling will reduce pressure on the public transport system and the road network. Consider walking and cycling if you can. Local cycling schemes can be used. Your local council can help you plan your journey by providing maps showing dedicated paths and routes.

Where possible, try to maintain social distancing when you walk or cycle, for example when approaching or passing other pedestrians or waiting at crossings and traffic lights.

Where using bikes (private, docked or dockless) wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before and after cycling.

Consider making a list of items to take with you.

Public transport

Plan your journey

Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport.

Before and during your journey, check with your transport operator for the latest travel advice on your route:

Travel may take longer than normal on some routes due to reduced capacity and social distancing measures. Allow sufficient time if your journey involves changes between different forms of transport.

Plan ahead by identifying alternative routes and options in case of unexpected disruption.

If you can, travel at off-peak times. Your transport operator can advise on off-peak times. Your employer may agree alternative or flexible working hours to support this.

Where possible, book your travel online through your transport provider’s ticketing app or website. Consider contactless payment to buy tickets.

Taking a less busy route and reducing the number of changes (for example between bus and train) will help you keep your distance from others. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from other people, where possible. Where this is not possible you should keep the time you spend nears others as short as possible and avoid physical contact.

Try to start or end your journey using a station or mode of transport you know to be quieter or more direct. For instance, walk the first or last mile of your journey, or alight at an earlier station, where this is possible.

What to take with you

If you can, wear a face covering if you need to use public transport.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

Consider making a list of items to take with you and minimise the luggage you take.

On your journey

Some routes may be busier than usual due to social distancing measures or changes to previous timetables or schedules. Keep your distance from people outside your household. Public Health England recommends keeping a distance of 2 metres, where possible. The key thing is to not be too close to other people for more than a short amount of time, as much as you can.

The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time you spend in close contact: you are very unlikely to be infected from just walking past another person.

There may be situations where you can’t keep a suitable distance from people, for example when boarding or alighting, on busier services, at busier times of day and when walking through interchanges. In these cases you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people, and keep the time you spend near others as short as possible. If you can, wear a face covering on public transport. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Treat transport staff with respect and follow instructions from your transport operator. This may include:

  • notices about which seats to use or how to queue
  • additional screens, barriers or floor markings
  • requests to board through different doors or to move to less busy areas

Help keep yourself, other passengers and transport staff safe:

  • wait for passengers to get off first before you board
  • ensure you maintain social distancing, where possible, including at busy entrances, exits, under canopies, bus stops, platforms or outside of stations
  • be prepared to queue or take a different entrance or exit at stations
  • wait for the next service if you cannot safely keep your distance on board a train, bus or coach
  • respect other people’s space while travelling
  • avoid consuming food and drink on public transport, where possible
  • be aware of pregnant, older and disabled people who may require a seat or extra space
  • be aware that some individuals may have hidden disabilities

Seek assistance if you need it

If you require assistance when travelling and would normally contact your transport operator ahead of time, continue to do so.

If any problems arise or you feel ill during your journey, speak to a member of transport staff. In the case of an emergency, contact the emergency services as you normally would.

If you need help, maintain a short distance from members of staff, where possible. If this isn’t possible, you should try to avoid physical contact and keep the time you spend near staff as short as possible.

Children on public transport

Where travel is necessary, consider whether children could walk or cycle, accompanied by a responsible adult or carer, where appropriate.

Social distancing applies to children as well as adults. Children should keep their distance from others who are not in their household, where possible. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from others. If this isn’t possible children should avoid physical contact, face away from others, and keep the time spent near others as short as possible.

If you are the responsible adult or carer travelling with children, please help them follow this guidance, wear face coverings, minimise the surfaces they touch and maintain their distance from others, where possible.

Children under 2 years old are not recommended to wear face coverings.

Schools may have additional guidance in place for children on transport which we recommend you follow.

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • consider walking or cycling from the station or stop you arrived at
  • follow local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible - do the same for children within your care if they have travelled

Taxis and private hire vehicles

At taxi ranks try to keep your distance from people outside your household, where possible. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from others, where possible.

Taxi and private hire vehicle (for example minicab) operators are likely to have put in place new measures to help with social distancing. When traveling in taxis or private hire vehicles follow the advice of the driver. For example, you may be asked to sit in the back left hand seat if travelling alone. You may want to check with your taxi operator before travelling if they have put any additional measures in place.

If you need to be near other people you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people, and keep the time you spend near other people as short as possible. Be aware of the surfaces you or others touch.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas.

If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

Private cars and other vehicles

Plan your journey

Plan your route, including any breaks, before setting out. Routes may be different as local areas make changes to enable social distancing on pavements and cycle routes.

If you normally share a vehicle with people from other households for essential journeys, we recommend you find a different way to travel. For example, consider walking, cycling or using your own vehicle if you can.

If you have to travel with people outside your household group, try to share the transport with the same people each time and keep to small groups of people at any one time.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas.

If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

Consider making a list of items to take with you.

Check that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy if you haven’t used it for several weeks.

On your journey

If driving, you should anticipate more pedestrians and cyclists than usual, especially at peak times of day. Allow other road users to maintain social distance, where possible. For example, give cyclists space at traffic lights. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from others, where possible.

Limit the time you spend at garages, petrol stations and motorway services. Try to keep your distance from other people and if possible pay by contactless. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands when arriving and leaving.

Be aware of the surfaces you or others touch. If people from different households use a vehicle (for example through a car share scheme), you should clean it between journeys using gloves and standard cleaning products. Make sure you clean door handles, steering wheel and other areas that people may touch.

Where people from different households need to use a vehicle at the same time, good ventilation (keeping the car windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission. Where possible, consider seating arrangements to optimise distance between people in the vehicle.

If you are in close proximity to people outside your household, you should:

  • avoid physical contact
  • try to face away from them
  • keep the time you spend close to them as short as possible

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

Aviation, ferries and maritime transport

Plan your journey

Before you travel, check with your travel operator and port, or airline and airport for the latest travel advice on your route.

Consider making a list of items to take with you.

On your journey

Some routes may be busier than usual due to social distancing measures or changes to timetables and schedules.

You should try to keep a short distance from others not in your household, where possible. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from other people. There may be situations where this is not possible. If you need to be near other people, you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from others, and keep the time you spend close to other people as short as possible.

Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas.

If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

Follow instructions from your transport operator. This may include:

  • notices about which seats to use or how to queue
  • additional screens, barriers or floor markings
  • requests to board through different doors or to move to less busy areas

Be considerate to your fellow passengers and to transport staff:

  • do not congregate near entrances or exits while waiting
  • be aware of pregnant, older, disabled people or people with prams who may require extra space or a seat during parts of their journey
  • be aware that some individuals may have hidden disabilities

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

International travel

If travelling abroad is essential, make sure you check the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice and coronavirus essential international travel guidance before travelling. Check your specific plans with your airline, ferry, train operator or accommodation provider, and inform your insurance provider.

At all points in your journey it is important that you follow social distancing guidelines and keep a short distance from others where possible. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from others. Where this may not be possible you should keep the time you spend near other people as short as possible and avoid physical contact.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas.

If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

You should review and follow any rules and government guidance set by your destination country, and check public health advice when returning to the UK.

Your transport provider may put measures in place to help you follow the guidance of the destination country.

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow all local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

Checklists for safer travel

Plan your journey

  • can I walk or cycle to my destination?
  • have I checked the latest travel advice from my transport operator?
  • have I booked my travel ticket online, bought a pass or checked if contactless payment is possible?
  • have I planned my journey to minimise crowded areas and allow for delays?
  • am I taking the most direct route to my destination?

What to take with you

  • a plan for my journey
  • contactless payment card or pass
  • phone (if needed for travel updates, tickets, contactless payments)
  • tickets
  • hand sanitiser
  • essential medicines
  • tissues
  • a face covering, if required

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers

Statistics on coronavirus funding for business

A collection of documents bringing together information on the amount of funding distributed to businesses and the number of claims that have been made.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): support for care homes

The government has announced a new care homes support package backed by a £600 million adult social care infection control fund. This has been introduced to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in care homes. This guidance provides information on the support package.

The government has written to councils and care providers outlining the details of the support package and has provided additional advice and resources to help stop the spread of infection.

Financial support for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is working to ensure that VCSEs can effectively support HMG’s operational response to key challenges, such as helping the shielding population and the Non-shielding Vulnerable to access food, and other activities that are delivering charitable purposes.

The government has pledged £750 million to ensure VCSE can continue their vital work supporting the country during the coronavirus outbreak including £200 million for the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, along with an additional £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts. The Office for Civil Society in DCMS is working with colleagues across government to direct funds to support the VCSE and the wide range of essential activities they undertake.

21/05/2020

Strategic supply chain and furlough options

Survival is about being strategic. Company directors and investors that choose to simply stop paying suppliers may be hurting their own post-lockdown recovery, as well as their suppliers.

Our economy is made up of interconnected supply chains. Companies would be well advised to keep in mind corporate self-interests in the broader context of mutual interdependence across all stakeholders. In respect to managing suppliers, more than ever, a strategic approach is required to balance near-term self-interest and long-term mutual dependence. Companies should identify where existing supply chain capital repayment time horizons can be used to their advantage. For example, by purchasing from wholesalers on existing 90-day credit and selling on to pre-identified demand and collecting revenues within 90-days, effectively securing free short-term financing. Where existing supplier repayment time horizons are too tight, suppliers may be motivated to agree to an extension to preserve their revenues. Thus, knowing how Covid-19 is directly affecting both your suppliers and your customers can help businesses to strategically navigate the lockdown. By contrast, if too many companies adopt aggressive self-interested positions, the net effect could be worse for all leading to more insolvencies and a weaker post-lockdown recovery.

But decisions between corporate self-interest and mutual dependence are not always clear cut. Some companies may be struggling with corporate moral dilemmas, such as whether to exercise the right to government schemes and protections, when utilisation is not for survival. Directors who do not pay rent because of the eviction moratorium, or furlough staff to save costs and only to delay redundancy, or apply for interest-free loans and grants to paper over the cracks of an already impaired balance sheet, may seem like an abuse of the system which potentially can worsen the recovery for all. On the other hand, directors have a legal obligation to act in the interest of all stakeholders which includes minimising losses wherever possible. So, which obligation is first: the legal requirement to your shareholders, or the moral responsibility to the UK government and the taxpayer? One of the challenges of rushing out legislation to preserve the economy is that a one size fits all approach will inevitably allow some degree of exploitation and the answers and appropriateness of company actions are generally not clear cut and nuanced, particularly given the uncertain timing of any kind of economic recovery. 

Company directors have difficult decisions to take over how you prioritise liabilities. The best approach is to consider the near term in the context of potential future customer demand. Making decisions on liabilities only in the context of trying to reduce them is to narrow. Likewise, identifying the interests of the company, without understanding all counterparties is similarly blinkered. This underscores the need for broad communication with all key counterparties which will in turn help inform decisions. Learn how your customers see their post-lockdown demand; some may see opportunities out of the crisis which could support confidence in your commitments to your supply chain. Identifying a mutual pathway forward should be the focus. These are different circumstances which require a new rulebook to survive and prosper.

https://resource-centre.co.uk/72/2302/may-2020/covid-19---strategic-supply-chain---north-west.asp 

Are your business premises Covid-19 safe?

if you operate within the identified sectors and plan to bring your employees back on site then you must complete an online HSE assessment in order to achieve your H&S certificate and also be prepared for the possibility of a random spot check to ensure you are following the new Covid-19 secure guidelines.

Health and safety has always been an important factor within the workplace but under the current circumstances employers are going to need to make sure they are implementing new procedures to ensure they are complying to the new guidelines and even more importantly keeping their employees and themselves safe. HSE will be taking this very seriously and there will be serious implications if the guidelines are not being followed.

The government said the new Covid-19 secure guidance will work alongside current health and safety rules and a further £14m in funding will be provided to the HSE for extra call-centre workers, inspectors and equipment.

The HSE ‘Five Steps To Safer Working Together’ that you must show compliance with to obtain your certificate are:

  • Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment and share the results with the people who work there
  • Have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in place in line with guidance
  • Have taken all reasonable steps to help people work from home
  • Have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace
  • Where people cannot be 2m apart, have done everything practical to manage transmission risk

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/are-your-business-premises-covid-19-safe/

Guidance released for Stockport firms considering Discretionary Business Grant

Businesses in Stockport who have not been eligible for existing coronavirus Government funding can apply for a new Discretionary Business Grant that will launch on Friday, May 22.

The Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund was announced by the Government on May 1.

Stockport Council has this week released guidance to businesses in the borough regarding the new grant, which is targeted at firms who have not been eligible for existing government funds.

The guidance from the government has indicated that the grants are aimed at:

  • Small and micro businesses, as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006.
  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

The information that the council has now published sets out the criteria for which priority businesses are eligible to apply, the application process and the date from which applications can be made.

Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said:

“To date, we have paid out more than £54million in government grants to around 4,600 businesses in the borough.

“However, we know there are businesses in Stockport that have not been eligible for any government assistance so far: from those that have waited years for a rateable value on their property to those in shared spaces, such as warehouses or mills. 

“The Discretionary Grants Fund will help those businesses previously ineligible to claim support that can help them through this unprecedented period.

“Stockport will soon begin its economic recovery and as part of that, the council is ready to back local businesses and encourage the whole borough to get behind them.

“This grant money will, I hope, support businesses into the recovery period: we all need to be working together and supporting each other on the path towards Building Back Better.”

In order for the Discretionary Business Grant to benefit the maximum number of eligible small businesses, there will be five levels of grant, which will directly be proportionate to the level of property costs for the business, and take into account the impact on a business owner’s income due to the coronavirus crisis.

If the fund is oversubscribed due to the number of applications received, the council will amend the grant levels to a pro-rata basis, which will be based on the applications received and approved.

Payments to businesses that meet the criteria will be made from Friday, June 5.

The full guidance can be found on Stockport Council’s website.

For questions specific to the Discretionary Business Grant, please email the Council’s grant team.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/guidance-released-for-stockport-firms-considering-discretionary-business-grant/

£40m boost for cutting-edge start-ups

Innovative businesses and start-ups are set to benefit from a £40 million government investment to drive forward new technological advances. Business Secretary Alok Sharma today (20 May 2020) announced the government is doubling investment in the Fast Start Competition with an additional £20 million.

The competition aims to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups – helping to build the businesses of tomorrow and propel their future prosperity.

Among the successful projects to receive the funding to date, is a virtual-reality surgical training simulator and an online farmers’ market platform.

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said:

The coronavirus crisis has created challenges that impact the way we live, work and travel but has also prompted a wave of new innovations as businesses look at ways to solve some of the challenges facing our world today.

This funding will support UK start-ups to deliver potential solutions, services and ways of working and help ensure the long term sustainability of these businesses.

The investment comes from a £211 million government support package to drive forward business-led innovation and is part of a wider investment package of £1.25 billion for innovative UK businesses, announced by the Chancellor on 20 April 2020.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch said:

The UK is a world-leader in research and development, and our ability to innovate will be key to tackling this crisis.

This £40 million of funding will deliver practical solutions such as new virtual farmers markets and entertainment platforms to bring the best British produce and cultural entertainment to our own homes.

Innovate UK received a record number of applications – over 8,600 to the Fast Start Competition and will now be able to distribute investment to over 800 projects.

Projects receiving funding include:

  • I3d Robotics which is building a virtual-reality training/teaching platform to enable medical students to upskill remotely and perform simulation surgeries.
  • Volunteero Ltd has developed a social media app to connect local communities and allow volunteers to target support to the most vulnerable members in their neighbourhoods.
  • Elchies Estates Limited is setting up new virtual farmers’ markets to replace traditional markets which have had to close as a result of COVID-19, providing a platform for local businesses and farmers to sell produce.

Executive Chair, Innovate UK, Dr Ian Campbell, said:

Businesses from all over the UK have answered our call rapidly to meet the challenges we face today and in the future through the power of innovation.

The ideas we have seen can truly make a significant impact on society, improve the lives of individuals, especially those in vulnerable groups and enable businesses to prosper in challenging circumstances.

Farm Manager & Directors Elchies Estates Limited Julie Comins and Brian Cameron said:

The virtual farmers’ market project is a response to the short-and-medium-term implications of COVID-19 and the change in food buying patterns.

The platform aims to offer all sizes of fresh and frozen farm produce from an ‘open all hours’ location. Being able to sell local produce in a completely safe and local environment will be welcomed, especially by the many older customers of our farmers markets and farm events which have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

For customers living in rural areas, the project will allow them to continue to access great local produce with minimal food miles and, for the first time, 24/7. For us, we continue to provide for our community whilst safeguarding ourselves, our farm and our contractors.

The Fast Start Competition was launched in April in response to the outbreak and is being managed by Innovate UK.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/40m-boost-for-cutting-edge-start-ups

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme extension

HM Treasury announced an extension to the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).

Including that:

  • maximum loan size available under the scheme will increase from £50m to £200m, up to 25% of turnover, so that some larger firms which do not qualify for the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility will be better able to access enough finance to meet their cashflow needs during the outbreak
  • alongside the increase, companies receiving help of over £50 million through CLBILS on terms of more than 12 months must agree certain restrictions, including not paying dividends and exercising restraint on senior management pay.

Further information will be provided on Tuesday 26 May.

https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/hm-treasury-announce-coronavirus-large-business-interruption-loan-scheme-extension-from-26-may/

Latest figures show millions benefitting from Treasury coronavirus support schemes

The new figures show that:

  • 8 million jobs have now been furloughed with £11.1 billion claimed so far through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • 2 million Self-employment Income Support (SEISS) claims have been submitted worth £6.1 billion
  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) has seen 464,393 approved loans so far worth £14.18 billion
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has seen 40,564 loans worth £7.25 billion approved so far
  • the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) has seen 86 approved loans totalling £0.59 billion

Welcoming the statistics, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

“Our plan to support businesses and individuals is one of the most comprehensive in the world. As these figures show, we are currently supporting millions of workers and businesses through these tough times so we can recover as quickly as possible.”

Further information

Updated figures for the schemes will be published each week.

The latest CJRS and SEISS figures can be found here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/latest-figures-show-millions-benefitting-from-treasury-coronavirus-support-schemes

Apprenticeship programme response

Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Government sates this is a difficult time for apprentices, employers and providers of apprenticeship training, assessment and external assurance. The government is committed to supporting apprentices, and employers continue to build the skills capabilities the country needs now and in the future.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is responding by taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), and to support providers during this challenging time.

The support they are providing includes:

  • supporting employers, providers, and apprentices to work together to mutually agree where and how this training takes place. This includes in the workplace where a provider is able to do so safely and where that workplace meets new ‘coronavirus secure’ guidelines on ensuring the workplace is safe
  • confirming flexibilities to allow furloughed apprentices to continue their training and to take their end-point assessment, and to allow existing furloughed employees to start a new apprenticeship, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for their employer
  • encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely, and via e-learning, as far as is practicable
  • allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible - this is in order to support employers, providers and end-point assessment organisation (EPAOs) to maintain progress and achievement for apprentices
  • clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to coronavirus issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled
  • apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment time frame
  • enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning, where the interruption to learning due to coronavirus is greater than 4 weeks
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is the ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks
  • confirming that where apprentices are made redundant and are ready to go through gateway, that providers and EPAOs are able to make the necessary assessment arrangements to support these apprentices
  • confirming that they are extending the transition period onto the apprenticeship service. Funds available for new starts on non-levy procured contracts can now be used until 31 March 2021. All starts will be through the apprenticeship service from 1 April 2021

The Government are keeping the developing situation, and guidance, under review and will continue updating this guidance as new information is available and/or the situation evolves.

The information should be read alongside the government’s COVID-19 guidance and support for businesses, in particular the salary support for furloughed employees, which also applies to apprentices.

They have also broken down some of this guidance into articles for employers, training providers and EPAOs, as well as articles for apprentices. These can be found on the Apprenticeship Service Help page.

Employers, training providers and EPAOs: https://help.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/hc/en-gb

Apprentices: https://help.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/hc/en-gb/sections/360003798540-Apprentice

Read guidance from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) on the delivery of assessment here: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/response-to-covid-19/

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response


19/05/2020

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch

A new online service will be launched on 26 May for small and medium-sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees, the government announced today (19 May 2020).

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This scheme will allow small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.

Employers will be able to make their claims through a new online service from 26 May. This means they will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

To prepare to make their claim, employers should keep records of all the SSP payments that they wish to claim from HMRC. You can read further guidance on checking whether you can claim back SSP paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19) on GOV.UK.

Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, said:

We are committed to supporting Britain’s small and medium businesses through this pandemic with a comprehensive package of support.

This rebate will put money back in the pockets of millions of employers, ensuring they can hit the ground running as the economy re-opens.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General of Customer Services, said:

Our teams have worked hard to deliver this scheme for employers and their employees to ensure they get the support they need. We want employers to be secure in the knowledge they will receive help as they care for their staff during this difficult period.

Employers are eligible if they have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started before 28 February 2020 and they had fewer than 250 employees before the same date.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks of SSP and is payable if an employee is unable to work because they:

  • have coronavirus; or
  • are self-isolating and unable to work from home; or
  • are shielding because they’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

Further information

The current rate of SSP is £95.85 per week[1]. Employers can choose to go further and pay more than the statutory minimum. This is known as occupational or contractual sick pay.

Where an employer pays more than the current rate of SSP in sick pay, they will only be able to reclaim the SSP rate.

The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

Other SSP eligibility criteria apply.

Connected companies and charities can also use the scheme if their total combined number of PAYE employees is fewer than 250 on or before 28 February 2020. Employees do not have to provide a doctor’s fit note for their employer to make a claim under the scheme.

Employers can furlough their employees who have been advised to shield in line with public health guidance and are unable to work from home, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Once furloughed, the employee should no longer receive SSP and would be classified as a furloughed employee. Where an employee has been notified to shield and has not been furloughed, the rebate will compensate up to 2 weeks of SSP from 16 April 2020.

[1] For the period 13 March 2020 to 5 April 2020 the SSP rate was £94.25 per week

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-statutory-sick-pay-rebate-scheme-set-to-launch

£500m Future Fund clears crucial state aid hurdle

The government's new vehicle for backing fast-growing UK companies will launch next week after clearing a crucial state aid hurdle that will pave the way for investments by hundreds of venture capital funds.

The final terms of the £500m Future Fund - to which the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has pledged £250m of taxpayers' money - will be announced on Monday.

Technology company investors said that Enterprise Capital Funds, which include private investors and public money from the British Business Bank (BBB) had been deemed eligible for Future Fund investment following talks in recent days.

One senior tech figure said the Treasury had been seeking clarity over whether the inclusion of ECFs in the new programme would breach EU state aid rules.

Industry sources said they had been briefed on the development on Friday.

The scale of the ECF's existing investments, which comprise a significant proportion of the UK venture capital landscape, mean its eligibility will substantially expand the number of companies which can seek money from the new vehicle.

Under the Future Fund's terms, companies will be able to apply to it for match-funding of between £125,000 and £5m, with the loans ultimately converting into discounted equity if they are not repaid.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-500m-future-fund-clears-crucial-state-aid-hurdle-11989556

Guidance for employees, employers and businesses

The Government has updated its Guidance on support for businesses and the self-employed.

This guidance will assist employers and businesses in providing advice to their staff on:

  • coronavirus COVID-19
  • how to help prevent spread of COVID-19
  • what to do if someone has symptoms of COVID-19 has been in business settings
  • eligibility for sick pay

This guidance also provides details of support available to businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • statutory sick pay relief package for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme to help with tax

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

It is clear that this guidance will be updated regularly as the situation changes and you are asked to refer to the web page above regularly for updates.

Advice for the freight transport industry

Freight industry guidance on international travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, following government advice for British nationals.

International and domestic freight transport (including by air, ship, road, and rail, including roll-on/roll-off transports) is classified by UK government as an essential activity in the context of its travel advice. The advice against non-essential travel is not intended to apply to international and domestic freight transport.

FCO travel advice remains under constant review and is being updated regularly with the latest information on restrictions and other measures in place in each country/territory. Check the latest travel advice and sign up for email alerts for all countries where you are travelling.

See guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-freight-transport

Self-employed deferment of second payment on account

Option for self-employed to defer their second payment on account due 31 July 2020

Choose how and when you can delay making your second payment on account for the 2019 to 2020 tax year.

You have the option to defer your second payment on account if you are:

  • registered in the UK for Self-Assessment and
  • finding it difficult to make your second payment on account by 31 July 2020 due to the impact of coronavirus

You can still make the payment by 31 July 2020 as normal if you are able to do so.

HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount of the deferred payment on account, provided it is paid on or before 31 January 2021.

If you want to pay in full

You can pay your second payment on account bill in full any time between 31 July 2020 and 31 January 2021 using the online service.

If you want to pay in instalments

You need to contact HMRC if you already have overdue tax which you are paying through a Time to Pay instalment arrangement and want to include your second payment on account in that arrangement.

If you do not have other overdue taxes, you can make your payment in instalments any time between now and 31 January 2021 by setting up a budget payment plan.

Payments made by Direct Debit

If you choose to defer and normally make your payments on account by Direct Debit, you should cancel your Direct Debit through your bank as soon as possible so that HMRC will not automatically collect any payment due. You can cancel online if you are registered for online banking.

After the deferral ends

The usual interest, penalties and collection procedures will apply to missed payments.

How to get help

If you are still struggling to pay your tax bill by 31 January 2021, or you’re experiencing other financial difficulties you can contact HMRC’s Time to Pay service.

Telephone: 0300 200 3835

Full text: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/defer-your-self-assessment-payment-on-account-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Statement from Stockport Council regarding Local Discretionary Grants Fund

Stockport Council have issued the following statement regarding the top-up for the business grants scheme – referred to as Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund.

“Following the Government announcement on 01/05/20 about a top up grant for businesses that are not eligible for other grants, the guidance to local authorities was released to the Council on 13/05/2020. We are now preparing a local scheme which will be available shortly.”

The guidance from Government indicates that these grants are primarily and predominantly aimed at: 

  • Small and micro businesses, as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006. 

  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs.

  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis.
    • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

The Council is aiming to publish eligibility criteria and guidance on making applications for the discretionary grant, including the evidence required in support of applications, on its website by 5pm on Monday 18/05/2020.

The information published on Monday will set out the criteria for which priority businesses are eligible to apply, the application process and the date from which applications can be made.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/statement-from-stockport-council-regarding-local-discretionary-grants-fund/

Updated Guidance On Which Employees You Can Put On Furlough To Use The CJRS

Find out which employees you can put on furlough and claim for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

This is a summary of information on the Government website.

Employees you can claim for

You can only claim for furloughed employees that were employed on 19 March 2020 and who were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020. If you had employees that were employed on 28 February 2020 but not on 19 March 2020, please see the section below on employees who were made redundant or stopped working for you after 28 February 2020.

Was the employee employed with you as of this date?

Date RTI submission notifying payment was made to HMRC

Eligible for CJRS?

28 February 2020

On or before 28 February 2020

Yes

28 February 2020

On or before 19 March 2020

Yes

28 February 2020

On or after 20 March 2020

No

19 March 2020

On or before 19 March 2020

Yes

19 March 2020

On or after 20 March 2020

No

On or after 20 March 2020

On or after 20 March 2020

No

If you made employees redundant or they stopped working for you after 28 February

If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 28 February 2020, you can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages from the date on which you furloughed them, even if you do not re-employ them until after 19 March 2020.

This applies as long as the employee was on your PAYE payroll as at 28 February 2020, which means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 28 February 2020. If your employee stopped working for you and was on a fixed term contract, you should also refer to the section ‘If your employee is on a fixed term contract’ below.

If you made employees redundant or they stopped working for you after 19 March 2020

If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 19 March 2020, you can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme from the date on which you furloughed them.

This applies as long as the employee was employed on 19 March 2020 and was on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020. If your employee stopped working for you and was on a fixed term contract, you should also refer to the section ‘If your employee is on a fixed term contract’ below.

If your employee is on a fixed term contract

An employee on a fixed term contract can be re-employed, furloughed, and claimed for if either:

  • their contract expired after 28 February 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 28 February 2020
  • their contract expired after 19 March 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020

If the employee’s fixed term contract has not already expired, it can be extended, or renewed. You can claim for them if an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020.

Employees that started and ended the same contract between 28 February 2020 and 19 March 2020 will not qualify for this scheme. This is not specific to employees on fixed-term contracts, the same would apply to employees on all other contracts.

If your employee had multiple employers over the last year

If an employee has had multiple employers over the past year, has only worked for one of them at any one time, and is being furloughed by their current employer, their former employer/s should not re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme.

If your employees are working reduced hours

If an employee is working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, they will not be eligible for this scheme.

If your employee has more than one job

If your employee has more than one employer they can be furloughed for each job. Each job is separate, and the cap applies to each employer individually.

Employees can be furloughed in one job and receive a furloughed payment but continue working for another employer and receive their normal wages.

If you employ apprentices

Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and they can continue to train whist furloughed.

However, you must pay your Apprentices at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage/National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage (AMW/NLW/NMW) as appropriate for all the time they spend training. This means you must cover any shortfall between the amount you can claim for their wages through this scheme and their appropriate minimum wage.

Guidance is available for changes in apprenticeship learning arrangements because of coronavirus (COVID-19) in:

If your employee does volunteer work

A furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work, if it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.

You cannot furlough your employee and then ask them to volunteer for you in the same or a different role.

If your employee does training

Furloughed employees can engage in training, as long as in undertaking the training the employee does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation or a linked or associated organisation. Furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training.

Where training is undertaken by furloughed employees, at the request of their employer, they are entitled to be paid at least their appropriate national minimum wage for this time. In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of an employee’s regular wage, up to the value of £2,500, will provide sufficient monies to cover these training hours. However, where the time spent training attracts a minimum wage entitlement in excess of the furlough payment, employers will need to pay the additional wages (see National Minimum Wage Section for more details).

Furloughed employees working as union or non-union representatives

Whilst on furlough, employees who are union or non-union representatives may undertake duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective representation of employees or other workers. However, in doing this, they must not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.

If your employee’s health has been affected by coronavirus
(COVID-19)

If your employee is shielding

Employees who are unable to work because they are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay home with someone who is shielding) can be furloughed.

If your employee has caring responsibilities

Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) can be furloughed. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed.

If your employee becomes sick while furloughed

Furloughed employee retain their statutory rights, including their right to Statutory Sick Pay. This means that furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least Statutory Sick Pay. It is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto Statutory Sick Pay or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate.

If a furloughed employee who becomes sick is moved onto SSP, employers can no longer claim for the furloughed salary. Employers are required to pay SSP themselves, although may qualify for a rebate for up to 2 weeks of SSP. If employers keep the sick furloughed employee on the furloughed rate, they remain eligible to claim for these costs through the furloughed scheme.

If your employee is on leave

If your employee is on unpaid leave

If an employee started unpaid leave after 28 February 2020, you can put them on furlough instead. If you put them on furlough then you should pay them at least 80% of their regular wages, up to the monthly cap of £2500.

If an employee went on unpaid leave on or before 28 February, you cannot furlough them until the date on which it was agreed they would return from unpaid leave.

If your employee is self-isolating or on sick leave

If your employee is on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus, they will be able to get Statutory Sick Pay, subject to other eligibility conditions applying. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness, and there is a 3-week minimum furlough period.

Short term illness/self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. If, however, employers want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees. In these cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed employee.

Employers are also entitled to furlough employees who are being shielded or off on long-term sick leave. It is up to employers to decide whether to furlough these employees. You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time. When an employee is on furlough, you can only reclaim expenditure through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and not the SSP rebate scheme. If a non-furloughed employee becomes ill, needs to self-isolate or be shielded, then you might qualify for the SSP rebate scheme, enabling you to claim up to two weeks of SSP per employee.

If your employee is on maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave or parental bereavement leave

The normal rules for maternity and other forms of parental leave and pay apply.

Although, you may need to calculate your employee’s average weekly earnings differently, if your employee was furloughed and then started leave on or after 25 April 2020 for:

  • maternity pay
  • adoption pay
  • paternity pay
  • shared parental pay
  • parental bereavement pay

You can claim through the scheme for enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay for employees who qualify for either:

  • maternity pay
  • adoption pay
  • paternity pay
  • shared parental pay
  • parental bereavement pay

If your employee gets Maternity Allowance

If your employee is getting Maternity Allowance while they are on maternity leave, they should not get furlough pay at the same time.

If your employee has agreed to be put on furlough, tell them to contact Jobcentre Plus to stop their Maternity Allowance payments.

If your employee agrees to be put on furlough and end their maternity leave early, they will need to give you at least 8 weeks’ notice and they will not be eligible for furlough pay until the end of the 8 weeks.

Individuals you can claim for who are not employees

As well as employees, the grant can be claimed for any of the following groups, if they are paid via PAYE: office holders (including company directors), salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), agency workers (including those employed by umbrella companies), and limb (b) workers.

The guidance below sets out specific considerations for those individuals who are paid via PAYE, but who are not necessarily employees in employment law. Unless explicitly set out below, all other guidance is applicable to these cases, and should be followed.

Office holders

Office holders can be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. The furlough, and any ongoing payment during furlough, will need to be agreed between the office holder and the party who operates PAYE on the income they receive for holding their office. Where the office holder is a company director or member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), the furlough arrangements should be adopted formally as a decision of the company or LLP.

Company directors

As office holders, salaried company directors are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. Company directors owe duties to their company which are set out in the Companies Act 2006. Where a company (acting through its board of directors) considers that it is in compliance with the statutory duties of one or more of its individual salaried directors, the board can decide that such directors should be furloughed. Where one or more individual directors’ furlough is so decided by the board, this should be formally adopted as a decision of the company, noted in the company records, and communicated in writing to the director(s) concerned.

Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, i.e. they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.

This also applies to salaried individuals who are directors of their own personal service company (PSC).

Company directors with an annual pay period

Those paid annually are eligible to claim, as long as they meet the relevant conditions. This includes being notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020, which relates to a payment of earnings in the 19/20 tax year. The requirement for there to be payment of earnings in the 19/20 tax year applies for any employee being claimed for under the scheme, irrespective of how frequently they are paid (e.g. weekly, fortnightly, or monthly). This will be relevant for those on an annual pay period if the last payment notified to RTI was before 5 April 2019 and no further payments were notified until after 19 March 2020.

An employer can make their claim in anticipation of an imminent payroll run, at the point they run their payroll or after they have run their payroll.

Salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

Members of LLPs who are designated as employees for tax purposes (‘salaried members’) under the Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act (ITTOIA) 2005 are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme.

The rights and duties of a member of an LLP are set out in an LLP agreement and in the absence of an agreement, default provisions in the LLP Act 2000, based upon company and partnership law. Such an agreement may include separate agreement between the LLP and an individual member setting out the terms applicable to that member’s relationship with the LLP.

To furlough a member, the terms of the LLP agreement (or any such agreement between the LLP and the member) may need to be varied by a formal decision of the LLP, for example to reflect the fact that the member will perform no work in the LLP for the period of furlough, and the effect of this on their remuneration from the LLP. For an LLP member who is treated as being employed by the LLP (in accordance with s863A of ITTOIA 2005), the reference salary for this scheme is the LLP member’s profit allocation, excluding any amounts which are determined by the LLP member’s performance, or the overall performance of the LLP.

Agency Workers (including those employed by umbrella companies)

Where agency workers are paid through PAYE, they are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme, including where they are employed by umbrella companies.

Furlough should be agreed between the agency, as the deemed employer, and the worker, though it would be advised to discuss the need to furlough with any end clients involved. As with employees, agency workers should perform no work for, through or on behalf of the agency that has furloughed them while they are furloughed, including performing such work through or on behalf of the agency for the agency’s clients.

Where an agency supplies clients with workers who are employed by an umbrella company that operates the PAYE, it will be for the umbrella company and the worker to agree whether to furlough the worker or not.

Limb (b) Workers

Where Limb (b) Workers are paid through PAYE, they can be furloughed and receive support through this scheme.

Those who pay tax on their trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment, may instead be eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), announced by the Chancellor on 26 March 2020.

Contingent workers in the public sector

The Cabinet Office has issued guidance on how payments to suppliers of contingent workers impacted by COVID-19 should be dealt with where the party receiving the contingent worker’s services is a Central Government Department, an Executive Agency of a Central Government Department or a Non-Departmental Public Body.

Read more information on contingent workers impacted by COVID-19. This guidance applies to agency workers paid through PAYE, as well as those paid through umbrella companies on PAYE and off-payroll workers supplying their services through a Personal Service Company (PSC).

Contractors with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)

Public sector bodies will follow the Crown Commercial Services guidance in the vast majority of cases. In a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, it may be appropriate to claim under the CJRS. Contractors who are deemed employees according to the off payroll working rules might be eligible for this scheme.

In this scenario, if the public sector organisation wished to furlough a contractor, they would have to confirm this with both the contractor’s Personal Service Company (PSC) and the fee-payer (as set out in the off-payroll working rules, usually the agency paying the contractor’s PSC). It should be formally agreed between these parties that the contractor is to do no work for the public sector organisation during their period of furlough. The fee-payer would be able to apply for the furlough payment of 80% of the monthly contract value, up to a maximum of £2,500, as well as the employer NICs on that subsidised wage. The fee-payer would then pay at least the amount of wage-grant received to the PSC and report the payment via PAYE using the contractor’s details, making the usual tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) deductions for contracts in scope of the off-payroll rules. The PSC would then be required to report the amount it pays to the contractor as deemed employment income via PAYE using box 58A on the PAYE Real Time Information return.

Where a contractor is continuing to receive payments from a public sector client (including through the CJRS or other any other scheme), income from this client should be excluded from any calculation of the reference pay for the purposes of the CJRS if the contractor also decides to furlough themselves as an employee or director of their own company.

If you’ve consolidated your payroll and have new employees on it

Where a group of companies have multiple PAYE schemes and there is a transfer of all employees from these schemes into a new consolidated PAYE scheme after 28 February 2020, the new scheme will be eligible to furlough those employees and claim the grants available under the CJRS.

Employee transfers under TUPE and on a change in ownership

A new employer is eligible to claim under the CJRS in respect of the employees of a previous business transferred after 28 February 2020 if either the TUPE or PAYE business succession rules apply to the change in ownership.

After you have checked which employees you can claim for

Once you know whether you can put your employees on furlough and claim through the scheme for their wages, you should agree this with them before you start your claim.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Check if you can claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and find out how to claim.


14/05/2020

Economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis

The topic now under discussion among economists is ‘what shape will the economic recession and recovery take once the COVID-19 crisis is over?’ There is no definitive answer yet, but we can look forward by discussing these shapes in this blog.

Firstly, you should know that ‘shape’, as mentioned above, refers to the letters V, W, U and L. In economic science, each of these letters represents the shape of a chart of economic measures economists create when judging recessions and recoveries. We’ll discuss all the relevant shapes here and start with the letter V.

V: the best-case scenario

During a V-shaped recession, the economy suffers a sudden and sharp economic decline, but quickly and strongly recovers. Such recoveries are generally encouraged by a significant shift in economic activity caused by increased consumer demand and spending. If this is the shape of things to come after the COVID-19 crisis, we can expect a sharp rise in GDP growth in 2021. However, this recovery depends on the following conditions:

  • The lockdowns manage to restrain the virus and are therefore limited to Q1 and Q2 of 2020;
  • There are no lockdowns required in 2021;
  • The financial system and supply side of the economy survive the crisis mostly ‘unhurt’.

Example

The V-shaped recession of 1953

The 1953 US recession is a clear V-shaped example. In the early 1950s, the economy was booming, but the Federal Reserve anticipated inflation and thus raised interest rates. Growth began to slow in the Q3 of 1953, resulting in recession, but by the fourth quarter of 1954, it was back at a pace above the trend.

W: a double-dip recession

A W-shaped recession takes off in the same way as a V-shaped recession and then turns back down again after showing false hints of recovery. In other words: the economy drops twice before it reaches the road to full recovery. This is why W-shaped recessions are also called ‘double-dip recessions’.

Twice the pain
One of the biggest pitfalls of a double-dip recession is that investors tend to jump back into the markets after they believe the economy has reached the bottom, which isn’t the case. They end up getting burned twice: first on the way down and secondly after the false recovery.

The bathtUb recession

A U-shaped recession looks like its V-shaped counterpart but lasts longer. In this case, GDP is likely to shrink for several quarters in a row, and only gradually returns to the growth level seen before the downturn. The US had a U-shaped recession in 1973. At the start of this year, the national economy began to contract distinctly and slowly and leanly grew for almost two years. It only returned to its previous growth expansion rate in 1975.

You go in, you stay in. The sides are slippery. Maybe there’s some bumpy stuff at the bottom, but you don’t come out of the bathtub for a long time.

Simon Johnson, a former chief economist for the IMF.

L: worst-case scenario

Of all shapes, the L represents the worst-case scenario because of a drastic drop in economic growth and the lack of recovery for a significant period of time. This is why an L-shaped recession is called a depression.

Back to full employment
One of the most critical features that define an L-shaped scenario is a failure of the economy to progress back to full employment after a recession. In this situation, large numbers of employees remain unemployed for a long time or even leave the workforce entirely. As a result, factories and equipment stand idle or underutilised for extended time-frames as well, worsening the depression.

Example

The bubble that burst

Japan suffered an L-shaped recession in the 1990s. The country had seen substantial economic growth in the years after World War Two until the end of the 80s. That led to what turned out to be a massive over-pricing of assets or a so-called ‘bubble’. This bubble burst in the early 1990s and as a result, Japan is still not growing as fast as in the period from 1950 to 1990.

What’s the shape of things to come?
Which of these recessions we will actually see in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic is, unsurprisingly, the subject of debate among economists. We will, of course, keep you informed on this topic. If you have any questions about it, feel free to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk

https://www.xeinadin-group.com/inspiration/economic-recovery-after-the-covid-19-crisis/

Making businesses ‘COVID Secure’

On Sunday, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would take ‘baby steps’ to reduce lockdown and to get businesses up and running again. 

Although the message remains that anyone who can work from home should continue to do so, he announced that those that cannot do so should be actively encouraged to go to work. 

This means that businesses in construction, manufacturing, engineering and a number of other areas can start work again, but they must ensure that they are ‘COVID Secure’.

What does ‘COVID Secure’ mean’?

Businesses are responsible for ensuring that their places of work are safe.

Prior to returning to work, all businesses will be required to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Templates are available from the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) website. For businesses with over 50 employees, it is expected that, where possible, this is published on their website. There is also a certificate/poster which can be downloaded and displayed to confirm your compliance with guidance. The HSE will be carrying out random inspections, so it is vitally important to take these guidelines seriously. Employees will also be able to report any unsafe conditions. 

The government has published guidance for employers in 8 specific workplace settings to help you to get your business back up and running safely. These can be found on the government website and are incredibly detailed.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

As a summary, the main points to consider are:

  • Travel to Work - Public transport should be avoided where possible. Employees are encouraged to drive, walk or cycle. Where this is not possible, face coverings should be worn, and individuals should keep 2m apart.
  • Adhere to Social Distancing Rules in the Workplace – this may mean that you will have to consider some of the following:
    • Re-designing the work place so that, wherever possible, individuals are always 2m apart. This includes work areas; rest areas; toilets and walk ways. Where not possible, you should manage the transmission risk.
    • Staggered start and finish times – perhaps consider whether shifts are appropriate.
    • Consider ‘fixed teams’ to reduce contact with different people.
    • Build in one-way systems.
    • Increase number of entrances and exits.
    • Sit people back to back.
    • Introduce screens (above head height to be affective).
    • Restrict meetings and visitors – use video conferencing as an alternative.
  • Increased Hygiene:
    • Provide hand sanitisers/face coverings.
    • Encourage regular handwashing.
    • Increased cleaning of workplace, paying close attention to high-contact objects.
    • Ask employees to bring in their own food, drink and utensils.
  • Consider the Psychological Impact – many employees may be anxious and nervous about returning to work and so it is vital to ensure that you listen to their worries and communicate your dedication to ensuring their safety at work.

What if some of my employees cannot come back to work as they have children to look after?

The government has acknowledged that this is an obvious barrier to an employee being able to come back to work and has advised employers to be ‘understanding’.

If your employee is currently on furlough, then consider keeping them on the scheme. Alternatively, you could consider flexible working arrangements.

What if some of my employees cannot come back to work as they are vulnerable and are shielding?

Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable cohort will continue to be advised to shield themselves for some time yet and the Government will continue to monitor this.

How do I get my employees off furlough?

There is no specific notice required to take someone off furlough. However, it would be reasonable to give them as much notice as possible, so that they can organise their personal affairs.

Also, be mindful, that in order to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an employee needs to have been on furlough for a 3-week period. This may have an impact on your chosen return to work date.

Once a date for return has been agreed, confirm this in writing.

Is there an update on the furlough scheme?

Following an announcement by the Chancellor today, it has been confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended by 4 months until the end of Oct 2020. The scheme rules currently in place are applicable until the end of July. From Aug to Oct there will be greater flexibility, further details to follow.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk

Managing risks and risk assessment at work

As an employer, you’re required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:

  • identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
  • take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

Assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace.

For most small, low-risk businesses the steps you need to take are straightforward and are explained in these pages.

If your business is larger or higher-risk, you can find detailed guidance here.

If you’re self-employed, check if health and safety law applies to you.

Holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus

This guidance outlines how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic. It is designed to help employers understand their legal obligations, in terms of workers who:

This guidance should not be treated as legal advice. Employers and workers should always check individual contracts and if necessary seek independent legal advice.

Holiday entitlement

Almost all workers, including zero-hour contracted workers and those on irregular hours contracts, are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year. The exception is those who are genuinely self-employed.

For the purposes of calculating holiday entitlement, the statutory 5.6 weeks entitlement is split into 4 weeks derived from EU law, and an additional 1.6 weeks from UK law. This guidance focuses on the legal minimum entitlement of 5.6 weeks. Many workers have contracts that entitle them to additional paid holiday beyond this, known as contractual holiday entitlement. Workers and employers can agree to alter the terms of the worker’s contract, providing it does not go below the statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks.

A worker has the same holiday entitlement, regardless of whether they are on sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave and adoption leave, and other types of statutory leave. A worker may request holiday at the same time they are on sick leave but cannot be required to take it while off sick.

Furloughed workers

Workers who have been placed on furlough continue to accrue statutory holiday entitlements, and any additional holiday provided for under their employment contract. Use the government holiday entitlement calculator to calculate a worker’s statutory holiday entitlement.

Taking holiday

Employers can:

  • require workers to take holiday
  • cancel a worker’s holiday, if they give enough notice to the worker

The required notice periods are:

  • double the length of the holiday if the employer wishes to require a worker to take holiday on particular days
  • the length of the planned holiday if the employer wishes to cancel a worker’s holiday or require the worker not to take holiday on particular dates

Employers can ask workers to take or cancel holiday with less notice but need the workers’ agreement to do so.

These notice periods are in advance of the first day of the holiday, and the notice must be given before the notice period starts. For example, if an employer wanted to prevent a worker taking a week’s holiday, they would have to give notice earlier than 1 week before the first day of the holiday. For the purposes of calculating the notice period, any uninterrupted period of holiday counts as a single period. These rules on notice periods can be altered by a binding written agreement between the employer and the worker.

Furloughed workers

Workers on furlough can take holiday without disrupting their furlough. The notice requirements for their employer requiring a worker to take leave or to refuse a request for leave continue to apply. Employers should engage with their workforce and explain reasons for wanting them to take leave before requiring them to do so.

If an employer requires a worker to take holiday while on furlough, the employer should consider whether any restrictions the worker is under, such as the need to socially distance or self-isolate, would prevent the worker from resting, relaxing and enjoying leisure time, which is the fundamental purpose of holiday.

Bank holidays

There is no statutory right to time off for bank holidays. Employers can include bank holidays as part of a workers’ statutory holiday entitlement if they choose, but do not have to do so.

Where necessary, employers can require workers who would usually take bank holidays as holiday to work instead, using the standard notice periods. Employers must still ensure that the workers receive their statutory holiday entitlement for the year.

Example

A worker who would usually receive bank holidays as part of their statutory holiday entitlement is required by their employer to work on the 8 May 2020, a bank holiday. The worker’s employer is then required to give the worker an additional day of annual leave later in the leave year, to ensure that the worker does not fall below the statutory minimum for the year.

Furloughed workers

Where a bank holiday falls inside a worker’s period of furlough and the worker would have usually worked the bank holiday, their furlough will be unaffected by the bank holiday.

However, if the worker would usually have had the bank holiday as annual leave, there are 2 options.

The bank holiday is taken as annual leave

If the employer and the worker agree that the bank holiday can be taken as annual leave while on furlough, the employer must pay the correct holiday pay for the worker. Employers may also require workers to take the bank holiday as annual leave with the correct notice periods.

The bank holiday is deferred

If the employer and the worker agree that the bank holiday will not be taken as annual leave at that time, the worker must still receive the day of annual leave that they would have received. This holiday can be deferred till a later date, but the worker should still receive their full holiday entitlement.

Holiday pay

The amount of pay that a worker receives for the holiday they take depends on the number of hours they work and how they are paid for those hours. The principle is that pay received by a worker while they are on holiday should reflect what they would have earned if they had been at work and working.

Holiday pay, whether the worker is on furlough or not, should be calculated in line with current legislation - see the standard guidance, based on a worker’s usual earnings. The underlying principle is that a worker should not be financially worse off through taking holiday. Where a worker has regular hours and pay, their holiday pay would be calculated based on these hours. If they have variable hours or pay, their holiday pay is calculated as an average of the previous 52-weeks of remuneration excluding weeks in which there was no remuneration.

Furloughed workers

An employer should not automatically pay a worker on holiday the rate of pay that they are receiving while on furlough, unless the employer has agreed to not reduce the worker’s pay while on furlough.

If a worker on furlough takes annual leave, an employer must calculate and pay the correct holiday pay in accordance with current legislation - see the standard guidance. Where this calculated rate is above the pay the worker receives while on furlough, the employer must pay the difference. However, as taking holiday does not break the furlough period, the employer can continue to claim the 80% grant from the government to cover most of the cost of holiday pay.

Carrying annual leave into future leave years

The 5.6 weeks of statutory holiday is split into 4 weeks and 1.6 weeks, and there are some differences in the rules that apply:

  • the 1.6 weeks can be carried forward into the following leave year if a written agreement exists between the worker and the employer
  • generally, the 4 weeks cannot be carried into future leave years, so employers must facilitate these weeks being taken within the relevant leave year

However under certain circumstances employers must allow the 4 weeks to be carried into future leave years. Where a worker cannot take annual leave due to them being on maternity leave or sick, employers must still allow workers to carry their annual leave forwards. These rights remain unaffected by a worker being furloughed.

Carrying leave forwards: how new legislation has changed the rules

The government has passed new emergency legislation to ensure businesses have the flexibility they need to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and to protect workers from losing their statutory holiday entitlement (The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, laid before Parliament on 27 March 2020). These regulations enable workers to carry holiday forward where the impact of coronavirus means that it has not been reasonably practicable to take it in the leave year to which it relates.

Where it has not been reasonably practicable for the worker to take some or all of the 4 weeks’ holiday due to the effects of coronavirus, the untaken amount may be carried forward into the following 2 leave years. When calculating how much holiday a worker can carry forwards, employers must give workers the opportunity to take any leave that they cannot carry forward before the end of the leave year.

What is reasonably practicable?

When considering whether it was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take leave as a result of the coronavirus, so that they may carry untaken holiday into future leave years, an employer should consider various factors, such as:

  • whether the business has faced a significant increase in demand due to coronavirus that would reasonably require the worker to continue to be at work and cannot be met through alternative practical measures
  • the extent to which the business’ workforce is disrupted by the coronavirus and the practical options available to the business to provide temporary cover of essential activities
  • the health of the worker and how soon they need to take a period of rest and relaxation
  • the length of time remaining in the worker’s leave year, to enable the worker to take holiday at a later date within the leave year
  • the extent to which the worker taking leave would impact on wider society’s response to, and recovery from, the coronavirus situation
  • the ability of the remainder of the available workforce to provide cover for the worker going on leave

Employers should do everything reasonably practicable to ensure that the worker is able to take as much of their leave as possible in the year to which it relates, and where leave is carried forward, it is best practice to give workers the opportunity to take holiday at the earliest practicable opportunity.

Furloughed workers

Workers who are on furlough are unlikely to need to carry forward statutory annual leave, as they will be able to take it during the furlough period (in most cases at least - see Taking holiday on assessing whether a furloughed worker can take holiday). However, to do so they must be paid the correct holiday pay which is likely to be higher than the rate of pay that will be covered by government grants, with the employer making up the difference - see Holiday pay.

If, due to the impact of coronavirus on operations, the employer is unable to fund the difference, it is likely that this would make it not reasonably practicable for the worker to take their leave, enabling the worker to carry their annual leave forwards.

In this situation, the worker must still be given the opportunity to take their annual leave, at the correct holiday pay, before the carried annual leave is lost at the end of the next 2 leave years.

Examples of what may be reasonably practicable

Example 1

A worker has 2 weeks of holiday left under regulation 13, and their leave year expires in 2 months. Owing to the coronavirus, a significant proportion of the employer’s workforce is unable to work during those 2 months. The employer assesses what steps it could reasonably take to manage the 2-month period, and this assessment shows that it is not reasonably practicable for the worker to take both weeks of holiday in what is left of the worker’s leave year. They agree that the worker will take one week in the remaining part of the leave year, and that the other week will be carried forwards to be taken as early as possible in the following leave year, when the situation allows.

Example 2

A worker has just started a new leave year, and as such has their full leave entitlement to take over the next 12 months. Their employer experiences a significant short-term increase in demand that is anticipated to last for 3 months.

The employer agrees with the worker that while it will not be practicable to take holiday in the 3 months where demand has increased, it will be possible for the worker to utilise their full entitlement in the rest of the leave year, so there is no need to carry holiday forwards.

Handling leave that has been carried forward

When a worker carries leave forwards due to the coronavirus, they will continue to accrue holiday in the next leave year. As such, they will have 2 entitlements:

  • the holiday that has been carried forward that must be taken in the next 2 leave years
  • the entitlement that relates to the new leave year

Holiday pay for leave carried forward should be calculated in the same way as set out in Holiday pay.

Example

Owing to the coronavirus, a worker carries 2 weeks forward into their next leave year. In that leave year they will have a total of 7.6 weeks of statutory holiday entitlement:

  • the 2 weeks carried forward (‘carried holiday’)
  • the 5.6 weeks to which they are entitled in the new leave year

When a worker with multiple entitlements takes holiday, it is generally best practice to allow the worker to take holiday from the entitlement that expires first. In practice, this means that workers should be allowed to take the holiday to which they are entitled in the new leave year before they take the ‘carried’ holiday, as the ‘carried holiday’ entitlement lasts for 2 years.

However, ‘carried holiday’ is subject to further protections – to be able to refuse to allow a worker to take “carried holiday” on particular dates, the employer must have good reason.

The employer may request that the worker takes “carried holiday” instead of their regular entitlement. If they do so, the employer must still ensure that the worker receives their full regular entitlement in the leave year to which it relates, in addition to any carried holiday taken.

Where carried leave is carried into a further leave year, the employer must facilitate the worker taking their leave in that later year.

Giving notice to workers

There is no statutory requirement to give workers notice that they will be able to carry holiday forward if they do not take it. However, it is unlawful for employers to prevent workers from taking holiday to which they are entitled.

To ensure that workers do not lose the holiday entitlement that they are entitled to, it is best practice for employers to inform workers of both the need to carry forward, and how much leave will be carried.

Requiring workers to take annual leave

An employer’s ability to require a worker to take annual leave is unaffected by the ability to carry holiday into future leave years. Where it is reasonably practicable for a worker to take annual leave, employers should facilitate this.

Generally, employers remain able to require workers to take annual leave to ensure that holiday is taken in the leave year to which it relates. This is covered in more detail in Holiday pay.

Payment in lieu for carried leave

Carried leave is still subject to the usual rules around payment in lieu. An employer must facilitate the worker taking their annual leave and not replace it with a financial payment (known as payment in lieu).

However, if the worker leaves employment, the employer must pay the worker for any untaken leave. This will include the carried leave under the coronavirus exemption, along with any leave that the worker has accrued in the relevant leave year. The payment in respect of such untaken leave is based on a statutory formula set out in regulation 14 of the Working Time Regulations.

Furloughed agency workers

The CJRS does not alter the position as to whether or not agency workers, including those working through an umbrella company, are entitled to accrue holiday under the Working Time Regulations and / or under their contract.

Accrual of holiday during furlough

Where holiday rights exist under the regulations, they remain unchanged when workers are on furlough. Where agency workers are engaged under a contract of employment which sets out their entitlement to holiday, that is 5.6 weeks or more in accordance with the regulations, their contract will continue to operate as before and they will continue to accrue holiday on furlough as they would normally when between or otherwise not working on assignments.

Some agency workers on a contract for services may not be entitled to the accrual of holiday or to take holiday under the Working Time Regulations while on furlough because they are not workers or treated as workers under those regulations when between assignments or otherwise not working on assignments. Contracts may nevertheless include holiday provisions which will continue to operate in the same way as they did prior to the furlough period.

Taking holiday leave and receiving holiday pay during furlough

Agency workers who have worker status can take holiday they are entitled to under the regulations or their contract of employment while on furlough. Where a furloughed agency worker takes holiday, the employer who has placed the agency worker on to furlough may continue to claim the grant from HMRC. The grant can cover up to 80% of the worker’s wage cost, with the employer liable for holiday pay above this figure.

Employers have the flexibility to control when a worker is able to take leave, through the notice periods covered in Taking holiday. This is the same for agency workers, and employment businesses may refuse a worker to take leave provided this is permitted by the Working Time Regulations and the agency worker’s contract.

Agency workers may be able to carry holiday into future leave years as covered in the next section.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Government to support businesses through Trade Credit Insurance guarantee

Trade Credit Insurance provides cover to hundreds of thousands of business to business transactions, particularly in non-service sectors, such as manufacturing and construction. It insures suppliers selling goods against the company they are selling to defaulting on payment, giving businesses the confidence to trade with one another. But due to Coronavirus and businesses struggling to pay bills, they risk having credit insurance withdrawn, or premiums increasing to unaffordable levels.

To prevent this from happening, the government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market. This will support supply chains and help businesses to trade with confidence as they can trust that they will be protected if a customer defaults on payment.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen said:

This country’s businesses are crucial in helping us to kick start the economy as we get back to work, and I will do everything I can to help support them through this difficult time. By guaranteeing business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, we will help to maintain a vital cog in our economy.

This is on top of an unprecedented package of support we have put in place to help protect individuals, businesses and the economy.

Business Minister, Paul Scully, said:

Giving businesses the confidence to continue trading is vital to seeing us through this crisis. This guarantee will be essential as we seek to reopen new sectors of the economy and get the UK back to work in a way that is safe for everyone.

The guarantee will be delivered through a temporary reinsurance agreement with insurers currently operating in the market.

The government will work with businesses and the industry on the full details of the scheme to ensure firms are supported and risk is appropriately shared between the government and insurers.

The guarantees will cover trading by domestic firms and exporting firms and the intent is for agreements to be in place with insurers by end of this month.

The guarantee will be temporary and targeted to cover CV-19 economic challenges, and will provisionally last until the end of the year. It will be followed by a review of the TCI market to ensure it can continue to support businesses in future. Further details will be announced in due course.

Further information

  • in whole of 2018 £450 million was paid in TCI premiums to cover over £350 billion in business activity
  • as of April 2020 there was over £171 billion business activity insured, covering transactions between around 13000 suppliers and 650,000 buyers

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-support-businesses-through-trade-credit-insurance-guarantee

Chancellor Extends Furlough Scheme Until October

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October,

The key points announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak are:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October
  • furloughed workers across UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500
  • new flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost economy

The Government stated as we reopen the economy, we need to support people to get back to work. From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.

New statistics published today revealed the job retention scheme has protected 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses.

The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and the changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August.

More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of this month.

The government will explore ways through which furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills are supported during this period. It will also continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations to ensure the scheme supports people across the Union.

The Chancellor’s decision to extend the scheme, which will continue to apply across all regions and sectors in the UK economy, comes after the government outlined its plan for the next phase of its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Full text see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-furlough-scheme-until-october


12/05/2020

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.

These 8 guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

Cash flow - Life after lockdown

The Firefight

Lockdown was announced on 23rd March and businesses began wondering how to manage. Certain businesses saw 100% of their income drop off overnight with a few having worrying signs prior to the lockdown.

Many businesses took action days before to make redundancies and then the government stepped in. New loan schemes were announced which were 80% government backed, a job retention scheme paying staff wages, grants available in tens of thousands for those worse hit and a new self-employed grant. With all the schemes in place, it seemed to at least help put those business’ that needed to, into a commercial coma.

From the outset there has been cash flow planning based around numerous assumptions. What your trade looks like now, how the grants fit in, how the job retention grants help and at what stage the cash flow planning is at. The cash flow planning can be split into three distinctive areas.

First 2-3 weeks

This is the firefighting stage where many businesses made drastic cash flow decisions. This required some level-headed decision-making including various discussions with customers and suppliers about trade terms, with the team about furloughing and/or redundancies, with the bank about funding, with local authorities over rates and grants, with landlords over deferring rents, help from Hallidays HR and your team at Hallidays about deferment of tax payments and helping with the complex furloughing processes.

Thankfully, we are through this stage however it was a very difficult and anxious period and you would have planned cash flow to get through this initial uncertain period.

Reviewing cash requirements over the next 3 months

We are deep within this period now and thankfully a lot of the government schemes have brought a reduced amount of anxiety and an equalling of cash flow within businesses or at least some of the costs being covered. Most businesses have received this help by the end of April. Wages are being paid by government grants, other grants being received to help cash flow within this period, loans have been applied for and other major liabilities deferred where possible.

Extra care is needed here to not just jump straight into a new loan facility without understanding the impact.

Modelling out the next 3 months weekly is critical in this period. If your business is being mothballed for now can you cover the costs that remain? How can you pay yourselves if cash is tight? Can you adjust any personal outgoings like mortgage payments to reduce the pressure on business cash outflow?

Next 12 months cash flow – putting plans in place now

For businesses that are fundamentally sound, it is hoped that these can be cocooned or repurposed so that they can recover when conditions improve. They are able to take advantage of Government supports such as CBILS, BBLs, CJRS, VAT and other tax deferment and business rates support as well as rent reductions and other cost cutting exercises.

There is a critical need to plan the cash flow requirements over the next 12 months now. CBIL and BBL will requirement repayments of both capital and interest after 12 months, VAT deferments will come to an end, other taxes deferred will require paying, landlords will be looking to restart rent payments and vital working capital will be required as part of business trade. The same trading terms before this crisis may be a lot different now and when we come out of the lockdown so it is crucial to plan now.

We don’t know the full extent of the easing of lockdown and certain industries are likely to be released at different times. You therefore need to think about scenario planning, start off with worse case and we can help assist with building in better trade working capital management, planning more with various tax payment plans, planning to take up external funding, help both equity and debt focussed and making sure you have a viable plan to present to funders. There might also be a focus on efficiencies now.

Integrated cash flows including profit and loss and balance sheets are ideal for this. Using these numbers to break down into 90-day cash flows as a weekly management tool.

Planning for the future – the new normal

What is the “New Normal?” It is the most important question, but no one can predict the length of the crisis and what will be the outcomes post lock down. What is certain is that the best way to predict your future is to create it!

Talk to us if you want to create your future – our success depends on yours! Contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk

https://www.hallidays.co.uk/views-and-insight/blog/cashflow-life-after-lockdown

Furlough FAQs

In the last couple of weeks, and with the opening of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme portal, a number of questions have been asked and a few things have been changed as a result by HMRC. 

Can employees now take holidays during furlough?

The government has changed their guidance and holidays can now be taken during furlough leave.

If holiday leave is taken, employers must top up the pay to 100%, but they can still claim for the other 80% through the grant. This includes bank holidays.

The extension to the Working Time Directive, whereby annual leave can be carried forward for up to 2 years, still exists and can be utilised. However, this will mainly apply to employees who are prevented from taking annual leave due to an increase in workload (e.g. key workers).

Can I insist that my employees take holidays during furlough?

Ideally, you should gain the employees consent to take holidays during furlough. However, the bottom line is that if they disagree, you can still insist that furloughed employees use up some, or all, of their annual leave during the furlough period.

Many employers will want to do this to reduce the amount of annual leave to be taken once the lockdown ends and businesses return to normal.

Legislation states that employers can force employees to take holiday as long as they give twice as many days’ notice as the period of leave the employee is required to take. For example, if the employer requires the worker to take two week's annual leave at a certain time, it must give the worker at least four weeks' advance notice (unless something different is specified in their contract of employment).

Can employees withdraw from salary sacrifice schemes during furlough?

Employees can request to stop participating in salary sacrifice schemes if there is a ‘life event’. HMRC have confirmed that COVID-19 counts as a life event, so salary sacrifice arrangements can be changed. This would amount to a variation of the employment contract and it is recommended that you confirm any change in writing – even if it is only on a temporary basis.

What happens to other non-monetary benefits?

Non-monetary benefits like health insurance or a company car should still be provided throughout furlough.

However, these non-monetary benefits (including taxable benefits in kind, salary sacrifice and pension contributions) should not be included in the reference salary to work out the 80% of furlough pay.

Can I claim for those on statutory leave receiving enhanced pay?

You can claim through the scheme for those employees receiving enhanced company benefits/ pay for:

  • Maternity pay
  • Adoption pay
  • Paternity pay
  • Shared parental pay
  • Parental bereavement pay

How do I calculate a furlough claim for salaried employees?

The claim should be based on 80% of a salaried employee’s wages on the employee’s last pay period prior to 19th March 2020.

How do I calculate a furlough claim for employees who work variable hours?

The claim should be based on 80% of either (whichever is highest):

  • The same month’s earnings from 2019, or
  • Average monthly earnings from the last year

If an employee has less than 12 months’ service, then the claim should be based on an average of actual monthly earning since their start date.

Salaried employees on irregular salaries can be based on a previous earnings average, as above.

What is furlough pay based on?

Furlough pay should be based on your ‘regular contractual pay’. This includes:

  • Wages
  • Compulsory commission
  • Past overtime (not necessarily contractual but regular over a 12-month period)

It does NOT include:

  • Discretionary commission (including tips)
  • Discretionary bonuses
  • Non-cash payments
  • Benefits in kind

Is there any guidance on what working life might look like after lockdown?

Government plans are expected to be released on Sunday 10th May. We will be in touch when we know more.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk

What next for commercial landlords and tenants?

The Government’s moratorium on all forms of possession action and debt recovery for three months has had the effect (as did Brexit) of kicking the can down the road. Tenants have breathing space for now but what happens after June if the moratorium is not extended at that point?

Unless a landlord has agreed to waive the rent due for the March quarter then, come July, many tenants who have been unable to pay some or all of this quarter’s rent will owe up to six months’ rent as the next quarter falls due for many on 24 June.

Even if the economy returns to running at pre-COVID speed, which seems highly unlikely, most businesses that have been closed won’t be able to make up all the lost trade, particularly those operating in the hospitality and leisure sectors. If landlords seek to enforce their rights, there could be thousands of business failures and investment in furloughs, rate release, business loans will have all been for nought. It may be that some of the smaller businesses that have taken advantage of all reliefs and some of the larger businesses with deeper pockets will survive but there will be many in the middle who will not. In turn, if tenants don’t pay their landlords the rent that is owed then many landlords may be in difficulty with their lenders.

It also seems likely that any release of the lockdown will be slow and phased, with many businesses still unable trade for a long time to come, either fully or partially. In addition to this financial burden, the press has reported that the furlough scheme will be modified or phased out, potentially adding to business costs.

Whilst some landlords and tenants have taken a long term and measured view, simply asking them to co-operate may not be enough. Until the Government intervened, others were threatening enforcement procedures and the fact that measures were required to this indicates that not all landlords want to take this approach or can afford to take a relaxed view to receiving rent.

Currently, two schemes to ameliorate these effects have their supporters – rent abatement (seemingly having originated from the #NationalTimeOut campaign) and rent support (Furlough Space Scheme).

Rent abatement

This proposal has the backing of several large companies in the hospitality and food industries, such as Pret a Manger, Prezzo and Nando’s and well-known figures, including Nigella Lawson and Michel Roux jnr. The suggestion is to have a national rent holiday for a period of time and, potentially, to make all rents turnover related until sales figures recover to pre-COVID levels as a minimum. The reaction of lenders to these notions will be fascinating to watch. With the proposal that tenants don’t pay landlords, lenders aren’t going to see repayments or, at the very least, landlords will struggle to make repayments. Therefore, it’s clear that lenders will need to be involved and the maths is likely to get very complicated.

Rent support

Similar to furlough for employees and attractively named the Furloughed Space Grant Scheme, this would require the Government to pay some or all of the rent. A scheme like this has been introduced in Denmark. Subject to any terms and conditions attached, this option seems attractive to landlords, tenants and lenders. Given the level spending already injected to keep the economy afloat through the crisis, the Government may be less convinced of its merits. However, if the alternative is millions of jobs and thousands of businesses lost which leads to a severe recession, it might be a price worth paying. The cost to the economy of thousands of people, currently furloughed, being made redundant, and businesses and landlords defaulting on loans, may lead to an L shaped recession rather than one that is V or even U shaped.

Should the Government decide to halt investment and reject these plans, it might be argued that it would have been preferable to have stuck with its initial herd immunity proposals and avoided lockdown, as Sweden did. This would at least have kept the economy running. The financial implications could be difficult for many if the situation is not proactively addressed.

What does this mean for you?

Without steps being taken by the Government to adequately ameliorate the position, many landlords and tenants may need advice on the options available to them as they seek to secure their position. Ultimately, such a scenario may mean some difficult decisions will need to be taken if both landlords and tenants are to survive. It cannot be in the collective interests of landlords to jeopardise the economy by demanding its money in July since, as a group, they will then be left with an awful lot of empty premises.

We have already set out a number of options for both landlords and tenants, the applicability of which will depend on your individual circumstances. If the Government has not announced any proposals for dealing with this situation by June and you are a landlord or a tenant, we would recommend that you get in touch to discuss your options and how they might apply to your specific situation so that you are fully prepared in the months ahead.

https://www.buckles-law.co.uk/blog/what-next-for-commercial-landlords-and-tenants/

Ecommerce trends during Covid-19

There is no doubt that Coronavirus has people concerned about the potential impact on the economy. But is it as catastrophic as we think?

Whilst it may seem like the economy right now is a muddy old field, there are green shoots fighting through for certain products that are in high demand.

If it is safe and possible for you to adjust your business model, then you can soar during this tough time.

Platform81 have gathered four of the biggest ecommerce trends to appear since lockdown began:

Cleaning Products

Mid to the end of March, we saw a huge increase in demand for cleaning products. From Mrs Hinch favourite Zoflora to packs of antibacterial wipes, sales went through the roof. One of our clients who is a wholesaler, saw a 500% month on month, and a 450% year on year increase in revenue and their top ten dominated by these cleaning products.

Activities for kids

As schools and nurseries have closed, many parents are turning to home schooling, or activities for their mini humans. Especially when the nice weather hit in April, demand for outdoor activities went through the roof (and out into the gardens themselves, it seems). One client of ours saw a 134% increase in revenue for watering cans and other gardening tools, and also paddling pool sales rocketed.

As soon as lockdown was confirmed, you can literally see the panic for parents on Google Trends, myself included, as we wanted to find a way to keep our little ones entertained (that other cheeky little peak earlier on was February half term).

live-blog-1-1205.jpg

Cake deliveries

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen businesses think outside of the (cake) box. Baker Candy’s Cupcakes have been in the news because she adapted her business by making her website ecommerce, and delivering cake in boxes that were easy for the postman to just pop through letter boxes, and her revenue increased 7 fold.

Card deliveries

At first, we saw top card delivery websites have to pull back their offering when the pandemic first hit, but they soon adapted for the current climate with pushing their ecard products. Genius! Some even had a 1p card delivery so you can send some support to key worker loved one. Talk about adjusting their business to suit the current climate and supporting our invaluable key workers! During these unprecedented times, innovation and adaptability are more important than ever.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-ecommerce-trends-during-covid-19/

‘Keep Stockport Caring’ campaign launched

A campaign to ‘Keep Stockport Caring’ has been launched to support the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors in the borough.

The marketing campaign and website, using the hashtag #KeepStockportCaring, is being jointly promoted by Stockport Council, Marketing Stockport and Sector 3, a collaborative network of Stockport third sector organisations.

Many local organisations and charities in Stockport have seen a dramatic drop in revenue and lost volunteers to self-isolation, all at a time when they’ve seen an unprecedented rise in demand for their services. These key services need protecting for the whole of the Stockport community and for the future.

Steve Hughes, Vice-chair of Sector 3 says:

With this campaign, the Stockport VCSE sector are working together to raise as much money as possible that will be invested directly back into Stockport groups and organisations. We have launched a JustGiving site because many have lost the ability to do traditional fundraising with the restrictions of Covid-19. The funds raised, added to those we have from other sources, will be used to help VCSE groups and organisations across Stockport, many who currently feel unsupported and unable to continue for much longer.

“Fundraising is only part of the story. There are other ways to Keep Stockport Caring and we also want to encourage people to volunteer time or donate goods to food banks. Many people in Stockport already support local charities but others aren’t sure where to start. Keep Stockport Caring complements other fund-raising activities that are happening and we hope it will get even more people involved in supporting their local communities.”

Councillor Amanda Peers, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Neighbourhoods said:

Our VCSE sector is amazing! People across Stockport have shown how much they care and have freely given their time, money and donations during the Covid-19 crisis. Established organisations, new groups and new volunteers have come together at a time of great need, demonstrating that Stockport works best when we work together.

“We can’t lose the momentum gained doing this vital work and the challenge is to Keep Stockport Caring as part of the ‘new normal’. Stockport Council are proud to be involved with this new fund-raising platform that will make it simpler for local people to support local charities and offer a lifeline for local charities who might not have the profile to fundraise independently at this time.”

More information is available about the campaign to Keep Stockport Caring is available from the campaign website, and Sector 3.


07/05/2020

Growing as a leader

We’ve released a new white paper for you to gain insights and inspiration into how you can grow as a leader to drive you, your team and your business forward. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world of business. Now more than ever there is a need for strong, clear, decisive leadership to lead organisations through the crisis.

A key part of being a great leader is about having self-awareness and taking responsibility for your own behaviours and performance.

Do you aspire to be the best version of yourself that you can be? If you don’t, how will you inspire others to follow you? Being a leader is very different from being a boss. Leaders don’t ‘boss’ subservient staff around, leaders inspire action, loyalty and commitment from an engaged team.

Leadership in times of crisis

The most important skill in a crisis is the ability to adapt quickly. Your first response might not be your final response, and strategies may change along the way. That is fine. You can’t be tunnel-visioned: if things change, you should too. Good examples include schools, gyms, and yoga studios moving to online classes or restaurants changing to delivery-only.

Remote working is also not to be feared. Social distancing has made it all but inevitable, but any lingering worries about employee engagement are unfounded. ADP Research Institute found some of the most engaged employees work remotely 80% of the time.

“The best leaders take anxiety and turn it into confidence.”

Marcus Buckingham, Author and Global Researcher

Many successful leaders are focussing on enriching the lives of individuals, building better organisations and creating a more caring world by considering what you can do for others.

Author Jeffrey Hayzlett suggests 4 steps to become a better leader:

  1. Encourage diversity of thought
    Motivate your team to think outside the box and give you more options to consider when it’s time to make a move.
  2. Create a culture of trust
    Communications need to be disseminated to every level of the organisation. Trust is earned and hard to repair once broken.
  3. Have an unselfish mindset
    The best leaders show their teams they are valued, supported and trusted. Handled well, crisis management can actually empower teams, forging a sense of community by getting through tough times together.
  4. Foster leadership in others
    With the right leadership, your team, your organisation, your community won’t just make it through a crisis but become better because of it.

Read the full white paper here.

Check if you can claim a grant through the self-employment income support scheme

HMRC updated their guidance 4 May to outline the process for applying for SEISS.

The scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether.

You will get a taxable grant based on your average trading profit over the 3 tax years:

  • 2016 to 2017
  • 2017 to 2018
  • 2018 to 2019

HMRC will work out your average trading profit by adding together your total trading profits or losses for the 3 tax years, then they will divide by 3.

The grant will be 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. The online service will tell you how HMRC have worked the grant out.

The grant amount HMRC work out for you will be paid directly into your bank account, in one instalment.

Find out how HMRC will work out your average trading profits including if you have not traded for all 3 years here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#threeyears

If you receive the grant you can continue to work, start a new trade, or take on other employment including voluntary work, or duties as an armed forces reservist.

The grant will be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance.

There is other support available if you are not eligible for the grant.

HMRC will work out if you are eligible and how much grant you may get.

Check if you are eligible to claim

HMRC have an online eligibility checker which links from their web page: https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference

Full details: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Managing through Covid-19 and the ‘new normal’ 

What are the strategies and options for businesses?

You are probably flat out dealing with grants, suppliers, customers, employees and doing the day job. We cannot think of a time where businesses had so many difficult choices to make.

We also have been incredibly busy making sure you are informed, prepared to survive the pandemic, and prosper in the future. We have also been helping our clients with Government supports and ensuring as many of our clients survive as possible.

As we enter week 6 of the crisis we have concluded that there are now 3 choices for businesses that are not already surviving and prospering online:

  • Pivot or repurpose
  • Cocoon
  • Liquidate

We are here to help you manage as best you can through the crisis and plan for the future. If you want to have a conversation to discuss anything in this article please do get in touch.

Pivoting or repurposing a business

For businesses which have been impacted but can continue to trade they have two options available:

  • Continue providing the same product / service in broadly the same way to the same customers (e.g. restaurants providing take away service and schools giving classes online) or;
  • Repurposing or Pivoting the business to provide a new service which is now in high demand (e.g. manufacturing businesses making PPE and leisure centres providing space for testing facilities)

We can help you navigate any changes in your business and understand what the impact may have on current and future financial performance. Given that repurposing involves a big change in the business there are likely to be many things including approvals, permissions, and supply chains to consider which we can help with.

This is also an opportunity for businesses to review their vision, strategy and how they are going to adapt to the changing business environment. We are using a simple, quick, and highly effective approach called a One Page Plan which can help adapt to the new normal. Let us know if you would like to have a conversation about this.

Cocooning a business

Cocooning, or mothballing, is a temporary suspension of a business and can be the result of sales reducing to zero (or nearly zero) with no prospect of this picking up in the short term.

All cash outflows where possible are stopped or reduced and the business is left in a state which it can emerge from once the prevailing business conditions improve.

Doing this means the business owner can delay taking a decision on what to do next for 2 months – whilst the key government support schemes remain in place.

Businesses should consider the financial impact of cocooning versus staying open (if that is possible), options for repurposing / pivoting as well as the impact on customer and suppliers.

We can work with businesses to understand what costs can be cut and how to do it so the chances of emerging successfully post-crisis are maximised.

Liquidating a business

For businesses who have been critically affected by Covid-19 (e.g. revenue has dropped to zero) these are categorised into two groups:

  • Fundamentally sound; and
  • Previously experienced periods of stress or distress

For businesses that are fundamentally sound, it is hoped that these can be cocooned or repurposed so that they can recover when conditions improve. They are able to take advantage of Government supports such as CBILS, CJRS, VAT and other tax deferment and business rates support as well as rent reductions and other cost cutting exercises.

Businesses who have been critically affected and who have previously experienced periods of stress or distress are unlikely to get CBILS support. They may still benefit from other government support such as CJRS and BBLS which will keep them going in the short term, but they are more likely to go into liquidation than emerge successfully after lock down.These businesses should seek expert advice now as there may still be options available to the business owners.

Planning for the future

What is the “New Normal?” It is the most important question, but no one can predict the length of the crisis and what will be the outcomes post lock down. What is certain is that the best way to predict your future is to create it!

We have the Business One Page Plan process to help your business adjust to the changing times and prosper post lock down. We cannot guarantee how things will work out, but we do know taking some time now to think about the future may lead to new opportunities and help focus your actions.

Talk to us if you want to create your future – our success depends on yours!

Stockport collaborates to launch Covid-19 business recovery website

As Stockport’s business community prepares for recovery post-coronavirus, a group of influential business leaders from the town have collaborated with Stockport Council to launch a new website – www.skbusinessrecovery.co.uk – to support businesses through the phases of recovery.

When the Government announced its lockdown measures in mid-March, Stockport Council convened the Stockport Economic Resilience Group to support businesses and the local economy in response to the impact of coronavirus.

The SER group – that meets online throughout each week – is a partnership of private and public sector representatives, collaborating to coordinate a swift and effective response to the economic impacts that the crisis has brought to the borough’s business community.

The new website provides a portal to a wealth of information and support tools to help businesses quickly navigate their way through the complexities brought about as a result of the coronavirus. It delivers easy access to information and support tools designed to help businesses and the economy recover from the considerable impact of Covid-19, including a forum where users can seek advice, share experiences and discuss ideas. 

The ‘SK Recovery’ website (https://skbusinessrecovery.co.uk) is also a platform to showcase innovation, where businesses have been inspired to revise their business models, to look for opportunities, to trial new ideas and to launch new products. 

The website provides access to a valuable resource normally only available to those who have the means to secure an experienced and expensive executive board. The Stockport Recovery Support Board, a team of experienced professionals, will be on hand to provide expert guidance via a regular webinar and to support businesses to develop their recovery plan.

The site will also share ideas on how to manage the crisis on a day-to-day basis, and to build recovery for the future as the borough moves through the various phases returning to a new normal.

Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said:

“Our recovery is going to be shaped around supporting Stockport businesses and with it, the local community.

“The website will allow local businesses to develop closer links with one another, which can then support buying and using each other’s services.

“This is essential. By doing this, we can help ensure any economic benefits are retained within Stockport so we bounce back from this crisis strongly and begin to ‘build back better’.

“Alongside this, we are developing our longer-term economic recovery plan that will ensure Stockport remains one of the best places to invest and do business in.”

For more information, visit SK Recovery.

Dining room chair or office chair?

Now that many of us are working from home we have had to adapt our working space to fit in with our home environment.

The largest number of comments we have received during lockdown are from people saying their backs ache. Logically why wouldn’t they? If a dining room chair was ergonomically sound for the office environment, why wouldn’t they be in everyone’s offices?

Unless we are having a gargantuan Henry V111 type feast, most of us would not sit on a dining room chair for more than 2-3 hours, whereas our office chairs are designed to allow us to sit for longer. An office chair is a feast of moveable ergonomic parts.

Posture, posture, posture…………….

Why does how we sit and what we sit on matter?

Because…………………….
We are all different shapes and sizes and we were made to move not to sit.

What to do………………
Under normal circumstances the chair needs to fit you, instead of you having to fit the chair. We can compare a chair to a bed in this instance – as we use both for about 8 hours a day. Most people will invest in a good bed to get a good night’s sleep and so they should invest in the correct chair to feel as good at the end of the day as they did at the start.

Our advice…………….
We appreciate that not everyone has a home that can facilitate the same work area that their office does. However, the consequences of sitting on a dining room chair for a prolonged period of time during lockdown, will inevitably have long standing and far reaching effects on not only the back but also, circulation, muscles, hips and neck – in fact bad posture affects the whole body. A comfy chair not only protects the body posture, but it also has been proven to increase productivity and job satisfaction.

Conclusion………….
Invest in your body and stop sitting on your dining room chair.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-dining-room-chair-or-office-chair/

Business Bounce Back Loan FAQs

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is a new scheme introduced to help smaller businesses impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19). It aims to assist those businesses to borrow between £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover (the maximum amount available is £50,000).

Government will cover any interest payable in the first 12 months through a Business Interruption Payment to the lender, and lenders will benefit from a 100% government-backed guarantee.

The government has set the interest rate for this loan at 2.5% per annum and the repayment term is fixed at six years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. Businesses remain 100% liable to repay the full loan amount, as well as interest, after the first year.

The Scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

The British Business Bank has released a FAQs for Small Businesses: Bounce Back Loan Scheme covering 24 questions.

See: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-schemes/bounce-back-loans/faqs-for-small-businesses/#f1

UK condemns cyber actors seeking to benefit from global coronavirus pandemic

The Foreign Secretary has called for an end to cyber attacks by hostile actors who are using the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as an opportunity to carry out malicious cyber activity, including targeting medical facilities around the world.

This follows a joint advisory on the 5th May by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the US’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security agency (CISA) exposing malicious cyber campaigns targeting international healthcare and medical research organisations involved in the coronavirus response, and giving advice on how to stay safe online.

Attacks by state and non-state actors seeking to undermine the global response to this unprecedented global health crisis endanger lives. International law and the norms of responsible state behaviour must be respected and all states have an important role to play to help counter irresponsible activity being carried out by criminal groups in their countries. Our support for the most vulnerable extends to cyberspace.

The NCSC has advised staff at healthcare and medical research organisations to change and strengthen passwords that could be easily guessed and implement two-factor authentication to reduce the threat of compromises.

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said:

It is completely unacceptable that malicious cyber actors are targeting those working to overcome the coronavirus pandemic around the world, from experts working on the global health response to hospitals and healthcare systems.

The effects of these cyber attacks are potentially life-threatening as they disrupt and put pressure on organisations and individuals working hard to save lives.

The UK will continue to counter those who conduct reckless cyber attacks for their own malicious ends. We are working closely with our allies to hold the perpetrators to account and deter further malicious cyber activity around the world.

Background

  • the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has identified that an increasing number of malicious cyber actors are exploiting the current COVID-19 pandemic for their own objectives. APT groups and cyber criminals are targeting individuals, small and medium-size businesses and large organisations with COVID-19 related scams and phishing emails
  • today, the NCSC and the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have issued a joint alert exposing malicious cyber campaigns targeting international healthcare and medical research organisations involved in the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, and giving advice on how to stay safe online
  • the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has produced practical advice for individuals and organisations on how to deal with COVID-19 related malicious cyber activity
  • as cyberspace is essentially borderless, any mitigations or solutions need to be international – it is a foreign policy issue as much as a technical one. The UK works with the EU, NATO, the OSCE, the UN, and bilaterally with countries around the world to respond to and deter malicious cyber activity

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-condemns-cyber-actors-seeking-to-benefit-from-global-coronavirus-pandemic

New funding to support dairy farmers through coronavirus

England’s dairy farmers will be able to access up to £10,000 each to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The new funding will help support dairy farmers – who together continue to produce over 40 million litres of milk every day – who have seen decreased demand for their products as bars, restaurants and cafes have had to close.

Today’s announcement is the latest action from the government to support dairy farmers, building on the unprecedented levels of support already announced by the Chancellor and our recent action to temporarily relax some elements of UK competition law to allow suppliers, retailers and logistics providers in the dairy industry to work more closely together on some of the challenges they are facing.

With some dairy farmers facing financial difficulties and excess milk, the new fund will provide support for those most in need. Eligible dairy farmers will be entitled to up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during April and May to ensure they can continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

It also comes as the government today backed a £1 million campaign to boost milk consumption and help producers use their surplus stock.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and we are doing all we can to ensure they are properly supported during this time.

We’ve already relaxed competition laws so dairy farmers can work together through the toughest months, but recognise there is more to be done. That is why today we have kick started a new campaign to boost milk consumption and have announced a further package of funding.

We will continue to stand alongside our dairy farmers through this difficult period.

The dairy sector is the UK’s largest farming sector, with milk accounting for 16.85% of total agricultural output in the UK in 2018. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the dairy industry has faced challenges of excess milk, falling prices, and reduced demand from the hospitality sector.

While many farmers have already rerouted their milk supplies to retailers and supermarkets – which have seen increased demand in recent weeks – today’s move will give the farmers in the greatest need the financial assurance to ensure they can remain operational, sustain production capacity and continue to meet animal welfare demands at this time.

Eligible dairy farmers who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible to access this funding for those qualifying months, with no cap set on the number of farmers who can receive this support or on the total funding available.

It comes as the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has today launched a new marketing campaign to increase consumption of milk in UK households, funded jointly by the AHDB, Defra, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, Northern Ireland Executive and Dairy UK.

The £1 million promotional campaign will to help increase sales of dairy products by encouraging the public to drink more milk.

Christine Watts, AHDB’s Chief Marketing Officer said:

This new innovative marketing campaign is a fantastic demonstration of what can be achieved when industry and Government join together to meet a common supply chain challenge.

It will support dairy farmers and processors in driving demand for milk within households across the UK. It will link consumers’ love of the great taste of milk and dairy with how we are all having to manage these challenging times at home and at work.

The UK’s food supply chain remains resilient and the Environment Secretary continues to meet regularly with representatives of the food and farming industry to ensure people can get the food and groceries they need.

Further information:

  • The new hardship fund announced today can be accessed by eligible dairy farmers in England. More detail on the fund will be issued in due course
  • The new AHDB dairy campaign is jointly funded by Dairy UK, Defra, the Welsh Government, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive and will be implemented across the UK
  • The temporary relaxation of competition rules for the dairy industry is effective across the UK

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-funding-to-support-dairy-farmers-through-coronavirus 


05/05/2020

New Bounce Back Loans launched

Britain’s small businesses can now apply for quick and easy-to access loans of up to £50,000 – with the cash expected to land within days.

  • small businesses will be able to apply for quick and easy-to-access loans from Monday 4th May.
  • businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with the cash arriving within days
  • loans will be 100% government backed for lenders, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form

Thousands of small firms and sole traders – including high street staples like hairdressers, coffee shops and florists – will be eligible for 100% government-backed Bounce Back Loans to help them make it through the coronavirus outbreak.

Small business owners can apply to accredited lenders by filling out a simple online form, with only seven questions.

The government has also agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans. And any business that has already taken out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Lo